NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – The implementation of the programming code which prescribes programming standards for free-to-air broadcasting services kicks off at midnight Thursday.
According to the Director General of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Francis Wangusi, penalties will be administered to those who fail to implement the standards stipulated in the code.
The penalties range from Sh500,000 to 0.5 percent of the gross turnover of that broadcaster.
“We gave broadcasters a grace period of six months to align their operations with the provisions of the code. The time has therefore come for the code to come into force,” Wangusi said while addressing the press Thursday.
The code requires, among others, to protect the interests of consumers particularly children and minors from inappropriate content during the watershed period (5am-10pm).
Hence, content flagged as adult content by the Kenya Film Classification Board should not be aired within that time frame.
It also requires TV broadcasters to feature at least 40 percent of local content which excludes news, commentaries and advertisements within the first year and 60 percent within the fourth year upon commencement of operations.
Meeting this requirement has however been faced with challenges with broadcasters complaining about the high cost of producing programs locally. As noted by a study commissioned by CA earlier his month, music shows, religious shows and games are some of the most aired local productions and are used to meet the 40 percent threshold.
“As of now, we have not looked at the particulars of the content aired but will start monitoring what makes up the 40 percent and start regulating that.”
While airing news, emergencies and events of national importance, broadcasters are also required to provide a sign language interpreter, which is in line with the code’s desire to cater to persons with disability.
That’s not all.
The code demands broadcasters to protect the rights to privacy, conservation of culture and safeguarding intellectual property rights of content producers.
The Media Owners Association submitted its own programming code which they developed and is currently waiting for approval from CA.
According to Wangusi, the Authority reviewed the proposed programming code and advised the Association on areas to address.
“The Authority’s code shall however be binding to all broadcasters and hence remains a reference document to all self-enforced codes.”
The development of the programming code was in accordance with the provisions of Kenya Information and Communications Act 1998 and the Kenya Information and Communications Regulations 2009.