Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008: Now What?

As of Friday January 2nd 2009, the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008 has been assented to by President Kibaki and the Kenya Communications Act of 1998 has now been amended by the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008.

So now what?

Well, in my view, one thing we need to move away from is focusing the discussion on the Amendment Bill; there’s that element of futility since it’s now an Act of Parliament.

This Act The 1998 Act contains debatable sections, most notably Section 88 – 92, which I previously discussed.

The Act could now either be:

  • Repealed – highly unlikely the amendment Bill will be repealed;
  • Amended – a new Amendment Bill is introduced that specifically deals with Section 88 and the other contentious clauses; according to the Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs, Martha Karua, it’s a possibility.

Of course the fortunes of any of the above actions seeing the light of day depends greatly on the political mood of the country. Perhaps some news may be made on Tuesday when the Prime Minister Raila Odinga holds a ‘crisis meeting’ with ODM top brass to “reassess the party’s standing in government” . Word is the VP and PM were not privy to the President’s intentions to assent to the Bill.. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

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6 Thoughts.

  1. I support the assenting by the president because a lot is at stake if the electronic media is not regulated. There are plenty of loopholes and we do not want a vacuum being filled by a rogue media that was allowed to run amok. I mean how do we bring to book perpetrators of hate sms, email etc…through the media council?
    Pulllliz get serious! Are you aware that the media played a role in spreading hate during the post election violence…?

    Kenyan media has never taken itself seriously and anyone who deals with these fellows on a day to day basis can attest to this. There is a lot of ongoing corruption. How many have highlighted useless stories just because they got paid for it? Who will act as a check on this guys? Is Kenya anti-corruption listening? Anybody?

    Why is it that ex-journalists are in support of this bill (Tuju, Poghisio, Mutahi Kagwe?)Ask yourself that. In addition, how are we to regulate money transfer services? cyber crimes? etc

    The media is the most important gallery of them all and for that they should be above reproach to be credible. They are not above the law.

  2. Njeri: The authority that had been handed to the Minister of Internal Security and the Commission in the sections on Broadcasting services in the Bill was the most controversial. But those were conferred in 1998. I agree that the electronic transactions regulations in ICT introduced are necessary. While ensuring press freedoms, some level of oversight still needs to be in place.

    I think it would have been much more beneficial if the sections referencing the media (Part IV A) and the sections dealing with ICT matters (primarily Part VI A) were introduced in two separate amendment Bills.

    That way the issues of concern to the media would be sandboxed and the much needed ICT regulations would not be held to ransom.

  3. I guess Media’s beef is the fact that Parts 88-90something (of the 98 Act) dealing with the Minister’s power to shut down a media outlet haven’t been reviewed. Although being a contentious issue, lets face it people, it is the LAW and has been in existence for the last 10 years.
    The merits and demerits and debatable. Nevertheless, lets focus on this Amendment.
    Commendable is the fact that newer technologies (Mpesa) now have some basic legal regulation. Also, it sets up legislation to police cyber-crimes in the ICT sector. Also, all those useless BBC type licenses that were set up to fund KBC lost meaning with the advent of multiple TV stations, they should have gone a long time ago.
    The Fairness Act: A necessary reminder of the Ethics guiding every media house, journalist and reporter.
    However, my beef is that in essence, the whole thing comes across as an average attempt at reviewing an outdated piece of legislation. It still leaves us ill equipped at managing Broadband and HDTV issues. Never mind taking us into 2030, this is what the 1998 Act should have looked like. From the top of my head, here are why:
    Content Management: Have they actually set a quota for local programming? When the Act says that Broadcasters should have programming that reflect ‘Kenyan values and identity’, legally, what does this mean? Shouldn’t there a reference as to the definition of Kenyanness?
    Cross Ownership: ?? I’ll defined at best.
    Media Policing: Definitely not shutting down transmitters. And definitely not Mama Lucy tantrums!

  4. The Media and any other democratization institution needs proper regulation for effective nd efficient performance.
    YES, the media has in the past been party to not so good reporting due to gray areas that allowed them to self-regulate to their own wims and YES, regulation must be there to iron out all this till smooth.

    The rush with which it, the communications amendment bill 2008, was passed in the House and the manner in which the president assented to it without regard to the lobby by the media and the PM smells foul.

    A law that will allow a minister to raid press for sport is untoward and very unnecessary!
    That the media wanted the bill to be accorded more review before being passed sounded ginuine to me but the statement by the prezzi, after appending his signature, was unconvincing in any manner.

    About Section 88, its moronic and should’nt be LEFT as part of our laws in this day and age. To LEAVE it for later (postponing it)is akin to denied Justice for patriotic Kenyans.
    Lets not have regulations for THE media, lets have PROPERLY CONSTITUTED regulations for OUR media.

  5. Bundukius: I think some in the media are giving the impression that the passing of the Bill is the end-game in the discussion of the outdated Sections 88 – 92 of the 98 Act. Clearly, all is not lost; a new amendment Bill can be introduced to review those sections. Despite it being a time-consuming process, I think now would be the right time to introduce such a Bill to capitalize on the political mood of the country.

    Deograttius: True, Kibaki seems to have been operating on his own accord when he assented to the Bill. Well, not to give him too much credit, I don’t think he’s doing a one-man show; someone’s pulling the strings and he’s more like a marionette at the puppet show that is (his) governance. I agree that some media practitioners were genuine about wanting the Bill to be subjected to further review, but now that’s water under the bridge since that didn’t happen – maybe the furor now is about giving Kibaki grief about that. Justice delayed may be justice denied but I think at this point lobbying efforts need to be directed toward pushing for another amendment.

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