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Citizen TV Among 6 Television Stations Facing Revocation Of Licenses

Communications Authority of Kenya CEO Ezra Chiloba raises the red flag over coverage of Raila Odinga protests

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The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has flagged six local television stations – including Citizen TV – over the live coverage of anti-government protests on 20th March led by the opposition.

In a statement issued on 22ndMarch, the Authority said Citizen TV, NTV, K24, KBC, TV47 and Ebru TV stations had contravened the code of coverage set by the government. Communications Authority CEO, Mr Ezra Chiloba, says these six provided coverage of the demonstrations in Nairobi and Kisumu in a manner that violated the Programming Code.

“The coverage depicted scenes that could cause panic or incitement to the public, threating peace and cohesion in the country,” Mr Chiloba says in the statement. “The Authority has, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law, issued notices lo the identified broadcasters to take immediate remedial actions.”

The protests, led by Azimio L Umoja Coalition leader Raila Odinga, were held in Nairobi and a number of other towns. Most of them degenerated into chaos and destruction of property as police moved in to counter the protestors. Nairobi was a battle ground between protesters and police most of Monday.

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Mr Chiloba said the Communications Authority has already written warning letters to the media houses to comply or face license revocation. He said while the Authority promotes freedom of the press, it is imperative that all broadcasters exercise caution in Live Broadcast Coverage to avoid scenes that would be detrimental to peace and cohesion.

“Failure to adhere to the outlined obligations shall be acting in breach of license conditions, which shall attract liability under relevant provisions of the law, including revocation of broadcast license and/or broadcast frequencies,” Mr Chiloba says.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has since announced that the anti-government protests will continue every Monday and Thursday until the government heeds to his demands. The CA move is seen as a strategic stroke against the opposition, which relies heavily on live broadcast to spread their message.

With the notice, TV stations are likely to start self-censorship or avoid live coverage altogether, which will be a blow to the Raila-led protests against the high cost of living and what he says is his “stolen election”.

CA says the Constitution and the Kenya information and Communication Act provides that the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom or expression does not extend to propaganda for war, incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy of hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm or discrimination.

Mr Chiloba, the CA chief executive officer, says broadcasting regulations requires a licensee to ensure that “no broadcasts by its station glorifies violence or depicts violence in an offensive manner or is likely to incite, perpetuate hatred, vilify any person or section of the community.”

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KALU MENGOhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kalu Mengo is a Senior Reporter With Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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