, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – Media practitioners are now seeking a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta in order to present their grievances over the controversial Kenya Information and Communication Bill.
Media Owners Association Chairman Kiprono Kittony says the industry’s main objection to the Bill is the proposed complaints commission which should instead be included in the Media Council Bill which is currently being debated in the National Assembly.
“The Kenya Media Council Bill that has a huge consensus from the stakeholders should be brought back to Parliament and the complaints commission returned back into it.”
“We also seek to have dialogue with the President so as to bring his attention to our recommendations for his consideration,” said Kittony.
President Uhuru has already indicated that he will not sign the Bill into law and will instead return it to Parliament for amendment.
Media Council chairman Joseph Odindo says another contention in the proposed legislation is the involvement of the government in the appointment of council members.
“We have a set of proposals that will kill the ills in the Bill that is currently before the House.”
“Our next step is to engage the Members of Parliament that sit in the committee that will finally put across the final draft to parliament,” explained Odindo.
President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier this month assured the media fraternity that he will not sign the Kenya Information and Communication Bill, 2013 into law until all contentious issues have been ironed out.
He said it would be an abuse of his powers to sign a Bill that contravenes the Constitution into law and asked the media not to panic over the fact that the Bill passed through Parliament.
“I shall look at the Bill once it is forwarded to me with a view to identifying and addressing possible grey areas to ensure the new media law conforms to the Constitution,’’ he said at the time.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga had described the passage of the Bill as an attempt to return Kenya to the, “dark days,” while former Deputy President Musalia Mudavadi described it as an affront to the gains Kenya has made over the years.
A number of provisions in the Bill have raised the red flag including the hefty fines that would be levied onto media practitioners should President Kenyatta assent to the Bill.
Another bone of contention is the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal whose sweeping powers would include dictating what and what not the media can share with the public.
The Kenya Editors Guild and the Kenya Correspondents Association also raised concern over the controversial media Bill, saying the proposed hefty fines were a threat to growth of the media industry in Kenya.