What the Kenyan Media Wants

kenya_mediaThe Attorney-General met the Media Owner’s Association on Tuesday to receive proposals on finding the way forward on the disputed sections in the Communications (Amendment) Act 2008.

The verbiage of the memorandum is not clear, since it’s not (yet) in the public domain but these are the proposals from reports:

  • Suspend or delete Section 88 from the Kenya Communications Act 1998 (the principal Act)
  • Upon amending the content of Section 88, move it either to the Media Act 2007 or present it as an entirely new Bill
  • Explicitly guarantee “freedom of the press” in the Constitution

The AG notes that the Amendment Act commenced on January 2nd and also Section 88 cannot be suspended pending any amendments. Nor can the Act be amended by Miscellaneous Amendments since it’s a major law.

I think that some of the regulatory functions stipulated in Part IVA of the Communications Amendment Act should be transferred to the Media Council, perhaps through an amendment of the Media Act 2007. Licensing should be regulated by the CCK, while content and programming would be handled by the Media Council.

Aspects relating to media freedoms would have been addressed in the Freedom of Information Bill 2007, including the right to information, disclosure and whistle-blower protection. Unfortunately the Bill did not make it past the 1st Reading according to Parliament’s 2007 Bill tracker.

It will be interesting to see what direction this process will follow in the coming weeks.