, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – Editors now want Parliament to relay its broadcast signal to individual stations to enable them make an independent decision on which House of Parliament to cover.
The Kenya Editors Guild Chairman Linus Kaikai urged the Senate to procure a separate signal as to enhance their coverage after they raised concern that the Lower House gets more coverage.
“You should have a separate and dedicated frequency for the Senate that can be picked by any media house that wishes to use it. Right now we are getting coverage from one channel and it depends on what they have,” explained Kaikai.
He was speaking during a breakfast meeting between the Senate leadership led by Speaker Ekwee Ethuro and the Kenya Editors Guild in a bid iron out concerns over the performance of the Senate in carrying out its oversight role of protecting counties.
On the matter of coverage, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula urged the national broadcaster to give both Houses equal coverage however suggesting that the editors consider having a split screen.
Media houses have been relying on the national broadcaster, KBC, to relay the proceedings of the National Assembly and the Senate which take place at times simultaneously, amid in-house programming by the broadcaster.
“It was easier when we only had the National Assembly but now with a bicameral system, it is something we are looking into as the Joint Committee of Broadcasting and Library Services comprising members from both Houses and we are working closely with the parliamentary broadcast unit (PBU) to come up with a solution,” said Naisula Lesuuda, the Chairperson of the Joint Committee of Broadcasting and Library Services.
She also said the committee intended to see whether it was possible to have a signal dedicated to the Senate and the National Assembly individually so that both Houses can get a fair deal of coverage. The option of going online would also be considered.
The Senate had during the consultative meeting complained over unfair coverage saying more publicity was given to the Lower House thus making the Upper House appear like it does not work.
“The Senators go out to the counties and I think coverage at the county level has been one of the greatest challenges. So that even to get a freelance journalist on the ground to cover Senators when they are doing their official duty is really hard, that unless a Senator throws in a national issue, then they will not get coverage,” Lesuuda complained.
On her part, Senate Chief Whip Beatrice Elachi attributed the tribulations being faced by the Senate to the power it wields.
“The Senate is a chamber of people who have worked for this country and therefore you will find that in terms of technical work there will be a great difference with the National Assembly. It is a House where we have good minds that will change this country, it can also be a threat to the Executive,” posed Elachi.
On his part Ethuro reiterated his commitment to devolution terming the supremacy wars between the two Houses of Parliament as teething problems which will eventually be resolved.
Kaikai went on to promise the Senators fair coverage but urged them to take a stand on issues affecting Kenyans.
Others present were Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe, Charles Keter (Kericho), Elizabeth Ongoro (Nominated).