, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 13 – The National Assembly has commenced debate on the Media Council Bill 2013 which seeks to repeal the Media Act by expanding the scope and the power of the Council’s Complaints Commission to hear and determine disputes lodged against media enterprises and practitioners.
Leader of the Majority Coalition Aden Duale lauded the Bill saying it offers to establish a leaner council consisting of six members that will be charged with the mandate of setting media standards, regulating and monitoring compliance to those standards.
He led MPs in declaring the Bill will ensure professionalism in the industry because it provides for the accreditation of both local and foreign journalists by the council.
“We want to kill the notion that this House wants to gag, wants to fight the media. We want to create the best media law in the region and world,” Duale stated.
Nyeri County Woman Representative Priscilla Nyokabi added: “As far as possible this the Parliament has to avoid chilling the media, when we have the fines like the ones we saw in the KICA Bill going up to Sh20 million that is chilling media, when we have a chilled media we are going to suffer lack of information.”
Ugunja MP Philip Wandai, Karachuonyo MP James Rege and Nyokabi disagreed with the House team on Information and Communication vice-chairperson Sam Kiptanui’s proposed amendments to abolish the Council’s Complaints Commission claiming its functions will better handled by the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal which is proposed in the Kenya Information and Communication Amendment Bill 2013.
“We don’t have to have the Tribunal under the KICA Bill and a Complaints Commission under this Bill. We propose to delete the commission and replace it with the Tribunal which will take care of the duplication of roles,” he said as he took the House through the amendments the Committee plans to bring for consideration.
“There is nothing in law that says the MCK Complaints Commission cannot be set as a first reference court,” Nyokabi said as she opposed the amendment.
“The Tribunal is so up there, I would recommend that the we have the complaints commission at the lower level so that if one is not pleased with the ruling they can go to the Tribunal and finally to the High Court,” said Rege.
Nyokabi said the media cannot run away from having government representation because the new council will be receiving public funds.
“If we are going to get some taxpayers funding for the MCK then there must be some presence of government, but very minimal presence if we are going to have the co-relegation model,” Nyokabi stated.
She pointed out the Law Society of Kenya also enjoys the some provisions.