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Kenya regulates media broadcasts

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 9 – Local broadcasters risk having their licences revoked, after the government stepped in to regulate on air content.

This is after the Ministry of Information and Technology maintained it would be effecting new broadcasting regulations that affect the way broadcasters have been conducting their business.

Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo revealed that the new regulations took effect on January 1 this year but is yet to give industry regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya, the go-ahead to enforce them.

“We need to put in place the relevant structures first so they have time to put their house in order,” the PS said.

This latest development is expected to pit the government and broadcasters in raging battles with the Media Owners Association expressing its disapproval of the new regulations.

Mr Ndemo however said they are still open to negotiations with the media owners as the regulations were not cast in stone and could be amended where consensus is achieved.

“Regulations can be changed at any time because it is the minister who signs and sends to Attorney General and they are done. So we are open to discussions but we must ensure that we enforce practices that you see in other countries,” he said.

Under the new regulations, a broadcaster will be barred from airing content deemed to have offensive language, material with sexual connotation, or any thing provoking violence.

TV movies will now have to pass through the Kenya Films Censorship Board for rating before airing. Local productions will also have to be given 40 percent allocation on all stations.

Broadcasters with more than one licence in a given area also risk having them revoked under the one-spot-one-frequency rule implying that they would only operate one station under that frequency in a specified region.

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Leasing of frequencies is also set to be abolished with licence holders having to surrender them to CCK for issuance to new players.

“If you are not able to use the frequency you surrender it and then the other person in line uses it,” he said adding the ministry was in problems in the past due to lack of a formal mechanism of issuing frequencies.

Broadcasters however have seven years to sort out frequencies issued to third parties.

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