Deregulate media for vibrant industry, Kenya Media Sector Working Group says

Kenya Media Sector Working Group

Members of the Kenya Media Sector Working Group during the launch of the State of Media Freedom in Kenya in Nairobi on February 21, 2023. 

Photo credit: Pool

Media stakeholders have called upon the government to harmonise the regulatory regime to create a free and independent industry.

Kenya Media Sector Working Group (KMSWG) has said that the industry is facing unprecedented challenges due to the existence of several laws that have pushed journalists to self-censorship and submission to authorities.

“There are about 22 laws that are often used against the media and journalists whenever powerful forces, including state agents, want to silence the Fourth Estate. We raise this as a red flag and call upon the government to move with speed and work with the media sector to harmonise the media regulatory regime,” KMSWG said in a statement.

A KMSWG survey cited the reduction in revenue, which has pushed media houses to lay off workers, as among the challenges bedevilling the industry.

The group said the state has been using the Government Advertising Agency (GAA) to blackmail media enterprises, contributing to the downfall of investigative journalism.

“The state should develop a public advertising law with media industry participation to regulate the operations of the GAA and guarantee a fair and definite allocation of resources towards advertising in community and other emerging media houses in the regions/counties to promote plurality and diversity; This should include restraint on its use to gag the media,” read the statement issued by KMSWG.

It called upon the international community to support media houses as they navigate challenges facing press freedom in the country.

The stakeholders spoke during a meeting at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi.

During the meeting, they evaluated the state of the media industry in the country and identified many challenges affecting it.