The Kenya Media Act 2007

The Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill, and by extension the Amendment Act, 2008 has for a while variously been misrepresented as the “Media Bill”. In fact, there is a Media Act contained in the Constitution, passed in 2007.

In Brief

The Act mainly establishes the Media Council of Kenya. It describes its membership, functions and powers. Within the Council, a Complaints Commission is established which deals with filed complaints against media entities.

What does it stipulate? Continue reading

Why was Gazetting of the Kenya Communications Amendment Act Delayed?

The Nation figures the Government is slowly getting cornered between a rock (loss of political capital, amid talk of 2012) and a hard place (bad press locally and internationally).

I tend to think it’s more the latter. Many internationally syndicated columnists simply drank the Kool-Aid of media-muzzling wrought by some disingenuous local reporters, before doing some fact-checking, hence the bad rap the Government has got for championing the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008. The Information Minister Poghisio and his PS Ndemo seemed genuinely surprised at the push back on the Act, like they’d been hit by a bus and now wondering what just happened. The Government Spokesman is peeved.

The Act has gone through the last stage in the legislative process, date of Commencement – January 2nd, 2009, but it has not yet been gazetted according to the latest release. The AG & Co. are asking for another memorandum from the Media Owners Association & Co. on what’s itching them on the two Acts.

What I’m wondering is what was contained in the original memo handed to Kibaki on MOA’s behalf by the Prime Minister sometime in December before he assented to the Bill?

Kenya Communication (Amendment) Act 2008: Gazetting Delayed, Under Review

According to this article from AllAfrica.com, President Kibaki has relented on his inclination to immediately implement the Kenya Communication (Amendment) Act 2008, and has directed the Information Minister to delay its gazetting.

The Attorney General Amos Wako and the Minister Samuel Poghisio, with input from the Media Owner’s Association,  will review the Kenya Communiation Act 1998 and the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008, to address possibly additional amendments.

There’s no ETA mentioned for how long this process will take but with the pressure to review Sections 88 – 92 of the 1998 Act piled sky high right now, the turn-around time may be fast.

What should be amended?

  • The authority granted in Section 88 (2)  of the 1998 Act to the incumbent Internal Security Minister to unilaterally declare a public emergency by signing “a certificate” should be rescinded. That authority should be vested either in the President by executive order (the buck stops here) or by majority vote in the National Assembly.
  • For the Internal Security Minister to perform any punitive action against a rogue broadcasting or telecommunications establishment “in the interest of public safety and tranquility”, it should be sanctioned by a Court of Law.  While the Minister may have the mandate to determine when this interest occurs because of sensitive intelligence he may be privy to by virtue of his portfolio, an injunction should be sought for cease-and-desist orders etc., just as warrants are needed for search and entry of premises.
  • Section 46H of the Amendment Act conferring on the Communications Commission of Kenya power to prescribe programming code should also be reviewed. The Commission perhaps should have authority to review malfeasance or malpractice in aired content rather than (rigidly) determine programming code.

Your two-cents?

What do you think? Specifically what Sections do you think should be reviewed and what should be instituted instead?