, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – Lawyer Paul Muite is urging the public to support the media in rejecting new regulations that seek to curtail media freedom.
Mr Muite said the government is not sincere in introducing the new regulations, saying he had attended a meeting where the government agreed to shelve the move.
The government had agreed to do away with the regulations until last Friday when Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo introduced them.
“The public is the one which stands to lose in these new regulations, they must therefore, join in the war and support the media,” he said and added that “the media too has a responsibility to demand that the regulations be revoked immediately.”
He said even the draft constitution contained “very progressive” clauses on press freedom and wondered why the government was introducing such regulations.
Muite told journalists the new regulations were aimed at giving the government a hand in media control and warned its effects would be disastrous in democracy.
The new regulations bans cross media ownership and demands that media ownership license be restricted to seven years, after which one can re-apply for renewal.
Currently, the period of owning a license is unlimited.
The laws also state that a licensee shall generally ensure that no broadcast by its station contains offensive language and should not glorify violence.
It also calls for equitable coverage and opportunities during the electioneering period to registered political parties and in particular to presidential candidates.
Those contravening the regulations shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh 1 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
Mr Muite said implementing such kind of regulations will amount to an abuse of democracy “because the government will have then taken control of the media.”
“So really the public should be sensitized that they are the ones who are going to loose,” he said.
He said if the media is not left to be free, the rot of corruption and other injustices by the government would not be exposed.
“And that is what the government wants to do, it does not want to be checked by the media. And that is why I am urging the media to stand firma and reject these new regulations,” he said.