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MCK condemn FKF’s decision to bar scribes, endorses blackout of FKF leagues

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14 – The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has condemned Football Kenya Federation’s decision to bar journalists from covering Premier League matches, supporting the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya’s call to Kenyan media houses to stop coverage of the games.

In its statement, MCK through its chairman, David Omwoyo said that it has written to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa expressing dissatisfaction and citing that their action is a violation of Articles 34 and 35 of the Constitution.

“FKF being a public body will always be scrutinized by the media even if they are uncomfortable. We fully support the decision by Kenyan media houses to stop coverage of FKF functions and encourage a total blackout until FKF restores the dignity and rights of the media,” Omwoyo said in a statement.

“The Kenya police service should stop enforcing illegal orders issued by people bent on threatening Freedom of the Media. MCK wishes to state that it is illegal and unconstitutional for FKF or any other body or institution to bar journalists from accessing public functions. All complaints against journalists or media houses should be reported to the Media Complaints Commission,” the statement further read.

“Further information indicated that the Football Kenya Federation had stationed policemen at entrances with specific instructions to bar certain journalists from accessing the venues of the matches.”

SJAK Secretary General Michael Okinyi. Photo/COURTESY

The Sports Journalists association of Kenya (SJAK) though its secretary Michael Okinyi, raised the complaint to the MCK after a section of its journalists were barred from covering Premier League match pitting Gor Mahia versus Ulinzi Stars at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday, December 12, 2020.

FKF did not give a reason why accredited MCK Sports Journalists were barred from covering the top tier match, hence SJAK in protest calling of total black out of FKF functions and Premier League or National Super League matches until the federation restores dignity and rights of media.

“The sports Journalists Association of Kenya, SJAK is in receipt of complaints from journalists on the conduct of the Football Kenya Federation. The SJAK executive had an emergency meeting and resolved to seek intervention from the Media Council of Kenya. For the second week now, journalists from various media houses have been barred from covering the league,” Okinyi said in a statement.

“The worst case was on Saturday 12th December where a selected few were allowed at the Nyayo National Stadium to cover the match between Gor Mahia and Ulinzi Stars. After consulting the editors as well, SJAK’s position is that the media council should stand with the editors in giving a black out to the league until this matter is resolved. The independence of the media must be upheld at all times. We would like to know what rules are being applied by FKF in locking out journalists.”

Consequently, the Nation Media Group has suspended all its coverage of FKF leagues.

“In view of the way our journalists have been treated at Nyayo National Stadium today and further to previous similar complaints, the Nation Media Group is suspending all coverage of FKF leagues and activities with immediate effect until this issue is resolved and our journalists accorded the freedom and respect that we deserve,” NMG Sports Managing Editor, Elias Makori wrote.

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Capital Sports also joins the media houses in suspending its coverage for FKF leagues.

This is not the first time FKF are barring journalists from covering the matches, similar incident occurred on October 9, 2020 when a number of journalists were barred from covering the Harambee Stars friendly matches pitting visitors Zambia.

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