With star news anchor Betty Kyalo having formally joined K24, media watchers will be keenly seek to see whether there would be a major shift in ratings among the country’s major TV stations.
K24, which is owned by Mediamax Network Ltd, a company associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family and Deputy President William Ruto, has been struggling to up its ratings despite the investors, who also include Equity Bank Group CEO James Mwangi, making massive investments in recent years.
However, Peter Opondo, who returned to the Kijabe Street-based media house as Editor-in-Chief, has been tasked with turning around the company, which owns K24 TV, Kameme TV, PD newspaper and a host of radio stations, into a profitable business venture.
In recent months, he has staged massive recruitment to strengthen the ranks of K24 and Milele FM, which are key to the media house’s strategy aimed at transforming itself from a political machine – serving Uhuru’s interests – to a serious business enterprise.
Though Ruto has ambitions of becoming President in 2022, those in the know say he is also a tough business-oriented person and a bean counter to boot.
While talent is key to the success of any media house, news managers and producers are alive to the need to execute a delicate balance between beauty and brains.
Kyalo is among news anchors who enjoy and almost fanatical following both on and off the screen. However, whether this will translate into a boost to K24’s popularity remains to be seen.
She is likely to co-anchor the 9pm English prime time news with Eric Njoka after lead anchor Richard Kagoe decamped to BBC.
Other TV stations have similarly assembled star-studded anchoring teams. The question, therefore, is: Who will triumph in the fierce competition for audience numbers?
Citizen TV, which sparked the fight for beauty and brains, is relying on Victoria Rubadiri who was snatched from NTV to bring in the numbers. She was seen to have been tapped as the new queen of the screen at Citizen TV, taking up the position left by Janet Mbugua. Another TV siren at the station, Lilian Muli, is on maternity leave.
Rubadiri co-anchors Sunday Live English news bulletin with veteran journalist Jeff Koinange.
Following her exit, NTV went for Capital FM presenter Olive Burrows to headline its English anchoring team. Burrows co-anchors news with Investigative Editor Dennis Okari. Media watchers say the chemistry between them has been great.
At KTN, Linda Oguttu, Sophia Wanuna and Akisa Wandera are seen as holding the key to a turnaround of the station’s fortunes following a talent hemorrhage triggered by Citizen TV.