Government proposes draconian law for regulating media content, says Media Institute

, by IFEX

A new law that, if passed, will allow the Kenyan government to determine the content, style, manner and schedule of broadcasting, has drawn fierce resistance from the media industry.

The Kenya Communications Amendment Bill 2008, which is now in its final stages of the legislative process in Kenya’s Parliament, proposes to set up a communications commission appointed by the government to issue licences to broadcasters and a raft of heavy fines and prison sentences for various offences.

The media industry has rejected the law as draconian and retributive for its critical stance on Kenya’s intransigent parliament. Compared to other laws in Kenya, the fines prescribed by the bill are generally too high and suggest a discriminatory and vindictive attitude towards the media.

Considering that this law is essentially about the fundamental freedom of expression and opinion, the extreme measures are unwarranted and unjust.

On 1 December 2008, the Media Institute and Kenya Editors Guild called for the bill to be withdrawn to allow for more consultations. The bill seeks to amend the Communications Act of 1998 that was hastily enacted but which has proved hopelessly inadequate in addressing the growth and performance of the broadcast media. Read more