NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – The Media Council of Kenya has launched election coverage guidelines ahead of the next historic polls in Kenya.
Chairman Levi Obonyo said the guidelines are aimed at helping journalists to provide comprehensive, accurate, impartial, balanced and fair coverage of the elections, to enable voters make informed choices.
He said the guidelines which were compiled through consultations with the media, government and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), will be binding to all media houses and authorities involved in the electoral process.
“We are going to hold every media house responsible for the content that they carry and particularly where that content departs from the code of conduct. We will endeavour to publish on a monthly basis our findings on the monitoring of the press,” said Obonyo.
The guidelines, will cover a wide range of issues among them balance and fairness, corruption, gender parity, voter education and opinion polls.
Several media houses present at the launch including Capital Group Limited, signed the code as a sign of commitment.
IEBC Chairman Isaack Hassan and his South African counterpart Pansy Tlakula urged the media to observe accuracy and remain impartial while reporting issues on elections.
On his part, Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said the government efforts to have the Broadcasting Content Advisory Council operational before the next general election had been delayed by the frequent court injunctions instituted by various players in the media.
He explained that the board’s main aim was to implement the Broadcast Code which is meant to check on the electronic media particularly requiring them to have at least a thirty second delay for call-in radio shows.
Ndemo said the government is still working on a policy to regulate the electronic media following concerns raised on the role the media played in 2007/2008 post election violence.
He also said a code to regulate offensive material is underway and the ministry is committed to ensuring that it will be in force before the forthcoming elections.
“The last case which is in court will not enable us to fully regulate content when the election comes, if it (code) is not implemented in the short term,” he said.
The Information PS said the Code borrowed largely from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which is internationally accepted.
At the same time, Ndemo says to prevent a repeat of the 2007-2008 post election violence; the government will be monitoring communication from the Kenyans in the Diaspora.
He said they will be monitoring the social media accounts including blogs.