Category Archives: Media censorship

Media Bill 2008

(Download and read the KCA Bill 2008 (PDF) here)

Regarding the Kenya communication (amendment) bill 2008: Like with the last controversial media bill, getting a copy of the bill that has the media up in arms has not been easy.

I’ve seen one PDF version of the bill, and these are some other aspects of the bill brought forward by now cowed permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo and hapless Minister Samuel Pogishio which was on January 3 2009 signed by President Kibaki who hailed at as a milestone bill for e-commerce
What’s in it?

Content government which produces the most content gets to decide what’s in the in the public interest? Who knows what’s in demand e.g. all TV stations play music videos targeted at youth – and does that meet the requirement to of Kenyan programs that serve children – also set what time programs can be shown – does the CCK have time for this really?

Controversial topics: coverage must be balanced and where a complaint is lodged e.g. on a news story, must take action

E-mail (electronic record) now recognized as official communication. E.g. companies with tens of thousands of shareholders, legal correspondence

Electronic contracts are now recognized in law e.g. by e-mail – they can also can include security features like an e-signature, and can be for official government transactions

Electronic signatures now recognized except for wills, and title deeds
Electronic fraud/forgery now outlawed, but the maximum fine is just 200,000 (~$2,500) or two years in jail

Electronic files now admissible in court if it meets criteria specified e.g. the requirement of banks to provide physical statement and letters in court, can now be substituted by printouts. In addition tasks performed over several computer networks can be deemed t have been on one computer and qualify

Kenya gazette electronic version of the Kenya gazette now recognized as authority

Fair play new restriction include monopoly of programming and unfair competitors may be fined up to 10% of revenue (ii) but also discrimination of some kind is banned – this could be outdated as mobile companies in Tanzania and Uganda have introduced location based discounts – depending on their location at the time of calling and the level of traffic on the network

Hacking now outlawed, but the maximum fine is just 200,000 (~$2,500) or two years in jail. Elsewhere it states a fine of 1 million and jail of 5 years

Infrastructure sharing e.g. mobile phone towers may be shared, where no agreement can be reached between providers minister may mandate this (co-location)
Mobile phone reprogramming outlawed 300,000 or 3 years in jail for those seeking to unlock the I-phone. Elsewhere it has been said even downloading or changing the ring tone on your phone constitute reprogramming

Movie censorship empowers decisions made by the Kenya film censorship board ? to bar/edit films they have reviewed

Pornography outlawed– publication of obscene material online (including forwarding of obscene e-mail) liable to a fine of 200,000 and 2 years jail.

Vernacular radio/TV elevates and restricts vernacular broadcast stations – mandates that members of the community participate in the selection and provision of programs to be broadcast. But also restricts what parts of the country they can be broadcast – what is the interest of one media house to broadcast in several languages?

Summary
– Regulator CCK (communications commission of Kenya) gets powers it does not need nor do the members understand, but they can hold them just in case, or till the day they need them like the next election.
– New tax (i) universal service fund charged on all licenses – mobile phones, television, radio etc. which the minister for information will set. funds raised can be given out as loans or grant for provision of service to rural or under-served areas.

Overall an omnibus bill combines communications and broadcast, good and bad characteristics, it is here to stay and we all have to adapt to it now that it is law

More training needs to be done now, at the judiciary – on the new laws, at banks and companies – on the consequence of e-mail communication since it’s now binding and enforceable, and in offices everywhere – on the sharing of passwords and other secure resources

Banks have a framework for e-commerce; also there’s more government bureaucracy in this bill – a universal service advisory council, and more members to the CCK Board.

Media gags the public?

strange times these: The leadership forum has brought some great talks with great Q&A sessions with leaders like John Gakuo and Michael Joseph; but when we invite the Nation Media Group CEO Linus Gitahi to talk about Africa’s Competitive Advantage In The Global Market Place – he will respond to questions posed by the audience in advance. – strange change of format, and we don’t even know what he will say.

TED Talks: Andrew Mwenda

Next up from TED Global Talks in Arusha is Ugandan editor Andrew Mwenda’s talk from TEDGlobal2007 who defined on of the themes of the summit with his calls for investment and trade opportunities and not for more aid for Africa. (Another great TED synopsis here from Ethan Zuckerman)

Unfortunately, Mwenda now appears to find himself wrong footed, when one of East Africa’s premier investors, the Aga Khan, chose to suspend him in a bid to appease the Ugandan government and ensure smooth survival of his business interests in the country.

Media bill 2007

There have been many columns written about the Media Bill 2007 that was presented in Parliament this month and which seeks to instill responsibility among journalists. However it is missing from the ministry site, there are no PDF’s available (so far) and I was only able to get a copy thanks to a networked bloggger.

It was disappointing that so far everyone talks about it, but few (member of the public) have seen it. Even media houses have remained selfish with the document, withholding it and only telling us what’s bad about it. Actually the bill is quite bare, except for providing for the establishment of a media advisory council, media advisory board and a code of conduct for journalists.

– Pros: It creates about 20 new jobs (board seats) on two new bodies (media advisory council and media advisory board)
– Is not as broad as previously envisioned when it appeared that it would cover cross ownership and content issues.

Cons: Much has been written about it – read some (here, here, and here)

The bill is crafted by people who believe that the media are out to get them so it comes out as something that a media-challenged celebrity may have written – guiding the media on what to do and what not to do via a code of conduct. It seems to be directed at the Standard which is believed to have editorial issues dictated by ownership (the bill calls on journalists to refuse to allow the interests of ownership or management to influence news’ judgment and content inappropriately) and therefore one ups the Standard by drafting a bill that seeks to forbid intrusions into individuals private life (without the persons consent), alarming headlines (a staple of tabloids to lure buyers), the use of hidden recordings (ala Githongo) and confidential/unnamed sources – with penalties such as deregistration of journalists.

Likely outcome: As bad as the bill is, it may actually pass in parliament because no politician likes the media – they will make a show of opposing the bill, but all will welcome the chance/forum to complain about negative coverage.

Jobs

from the newspapers over the last week

Commercial and political risks underwriter at Africa trade insurance agency – ATIA. Apply to Recruitment@Africa-ECA.com by 15/6

Marketing manager at nation media group: apply to hrrecruit@nation.co.ke 30/5

National communications secretariat of the republic of Kenya: communication legal expert, accountant, system administrator. Apply to ncs@elimu.net 15/6

Pricewaterhousecoopers: public financial management and procurement specialists. Apply to recruitment.ke@ke.pwc.com by 15/6

Sony (South Nyanza Sugar Company): CEO/ M – details here. Also HR development manager, procurement manager, management accountant, property manager, sales operations manager. Apply by 20/6

2006 Nation AGM

The Nation Media Group held their 2006 AGM at their plant, located just after JKIA Airport in Mlolongo. The company had a very good 2005, during which its profits passed the 1 billion shilling threshold and its newspapers, television, radio and other divisions all showed impressive growth and significant market leadership.

Media censorship referendum
The Chairman Mr. H. Awori and the CEO Mr. W. Kiboro clearly stated that the company’s investment future was at risk if a draconian media bill drafted by the Ministry of Information is passed by Parliament. The bill would among other things;
– Limit media ownership e.g. nation newspapers would not be able to own more than 10&% of a radio or TV station. They currently own all 3 outlets.
– CCK board would loose its independence, and be packed by political appointees who will regulate the sector at the whim of the executive.
– A “content advisory committee” would determine what is acceptable to be broadcast, and also determine what can be screened, at specific times of the day.
– Rolls back media gains even further than during the dark autocratic days of previous government.

Future plans
– Will engage other bodies and the public to challenge the media bill.
– Company may soon increase the price of Daily Nation and Sunday Nation (first since 2001) to offset increased newsprint costs.
– To meet the demands for increased financial information by Kenyans, they will start a business daily paper
– New offices? MD Kiboro complained to his staff that there is too much noise on Kimathi Street (from nightclubs) and it’s difficult to work after 7 PM.

Kengen take note: With 200,000+ shareholders, Kengen can limit their AGM crowd capacity by holding their meeting at Masinga or Turkwell dams, far from Nairobi – The Nation has about 8,000 shareholders and hired over 10 Akamba buses to ferry shareholders 15 km to their plant.

Goodies Pleasant lunch in an open tent preceded the AGM. All shareholders received small gym bags, nation polo shirt, and copes of nation, taifa leo, east African and weekly advertiser. Lunch was “wedding food” – pilau, chichken, beef, and soda.

Shareholders questions
– First two shareholders to speak were AGM veterans who did not perform well today – each spoke for longer than the Chairman had before applauding paper’s coverage of Anglo leasing and other corruption.
– Asked for more dividend (which was the same as last year but puffed up by bonus share)
– Nation to mobilize the public against media bill
– Nation should consider offshore borrowing since the company is averse to borrowing locally and funds projects using internally generated cash (also to increase dividend payout)
– More complaints about BARS.