Kenyan Parliament eyes broadcast unit

May 26, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Parliament is in the process of setting up its own broadcasting facility, the House Broadcasting Unit, to air live proceedings.

Currently, the House relies on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation to relay the proceedings to media houses.

Members of the House Broadcasting Committee (HBC) said that Parliament will decide whether to continue relying on an existing station or use its own signal to transmit the sittings live once the unit is fully operational.

Speaking to Capital News during a visit to the 98.4 Capital FM studios, Rarieda Member of Parliament Nicolas Gumbo who also chairs the committee said they had visited other countries that already have such units to learn how best to make the facility work in Kenya.

“There is a House Broadcasting Unit which is run by civil servants. This is the unit that is going to manage broadcasts for Parliament. Ours will be at the policy level because our mandate is to consider and report on all matters relating to broadcasting of Parliamentary proceedings,” he said.

The unit will not only be expected to report when Parliament is in session, but also when it is off-session including committee sittings.

Mr Gumbo explained that the media facility would help lay bare what Parliamentarians do and also help achieve national cohesion.

“The governors and the governed need to interact in a more transparent way; for a long time the operations of Parliament were a bit of a mystery and even now people still don’t understand what Parliament does. The idea of this broadcasting unit is to facilitate the live broadcasting of Parliamentary proceedings and demystify them,” he said.

HBC vice chairperson and MP for Mathioya Clement Wambugu also said the development would help open up Parliament to members of the public.

“Parliament was some sort of a closed club for individuals but bearing in mind that Parliament is the property of this country we felt it was right for it to be unwrapped and also to show our people the performance of the members of the House,” he said.

He also explained that the House Broadcasting Unit would be regulated by the Committee on Energy and Communication which also regulates other broadcasting media houses.

“But we also have other things that we need to look at like the economics involved and we are also looking at whether we can have those transmissions at the constituency level. For example we could get ourselves to a particular constituency and let the wananchi air their views,” he said.

Mr Gumbo added that the committee would also analyse and assess Parliamentary information that is released to the public as well as make recommendations to the National Assembly on a regular basis.

The Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit would also have programmes highlighting what MPs are up to and how they spend their time.

The two were accompanied in their visit to Capital FM by committee members Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), Peter Kiilu (Makueni) and Banjamin Washiali (Mumias).  They held discussions with Capital Group Limited chairman Chris Kirubi and other company executives.


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