The arrival of Jeff Koinange at Royal Media Services (RMS) has begun to exert pressure on Citizen TV, which is now facing a fallout among some of its best presenters. It is understood that Jeff Konainge’s pay package – figured at Ksh2 million per month for the next two years – has caused disquiet among senior TV presenters who feel short-changed and ‘mocked’ by the media house.
Mr Koinange’s salary is, in fact, equivalent to about what six presenters take home in salary and aspires to rival that of the company’s CEO, Waruru Wachira.
Already Janet Mbugua, one of the most admired female TV presenters in Kenya, has resigned to pursue other interests and could be followed by her colleague Hussein Mohamed, who has been disenfranchised by the management. Ms Mbugua was among the highest paid presenters at about Ksh500,000, according to inside sources, while Hussein could be earning far less in spite of working more.
What has miffed presenters at Citizen TV is the fact for Ksh2 million, Jeff works only one day a week, on Wednesday, when he anchors news, followed by his Jeff Koinange Live interview. This makes Jeff Koinange arguably the highest paid practicing journalist in Kenya.
Jeff, who joined barely a month ago, runs the programme with his Twitter handler, @Thee Trend Setter. It’s not clear whether Jeff has other significant roles apart from a morning breakfast show he plans to launch on Hot 96, the struggling urban radio station run by Royal Media Services.
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Interestingly, Ipsos research shows that Hussein and Janet Mbugua are the most popular presenters on Citizen TV, giving the station the high rankings it currently enjoys as the leading number TV station in Kenya with nearly half of the audience for primetime news.
“Hussein does a lot of work, including research for his shows,” said a colleague of his, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation. “He does most of the anchoring and interviews as well.”
Anyone doing that kind of work will either feel overworked or underpaid. That’s the situation that Hussein finds himself in, even with rumours doing the rounds that he could be on his way out. “I passed him in the newsroom today and just say hi to him. We didn’t talk so I can’t tell whether he is leaving,” said another Citizen TV staff. “If he gets a better place he will definitely leave.”
That said, Janet Mbugua’s exit has also raised eyebrows with colleagues speculating that perhaps she wants to spend more time with family (she has a young baby) or the Royal Media management may have pushed her out due to the lucrative brand endorsement deals she has started attracting. It’s not clear where she is headed to.
Citizen will need to handle this issue delicately lest it mark the beginning of its downfall like it happened to KTN when it lost great presenters, such as Swale Mdoe, Catherine Kasavuli, Mercy Oburu and Emmanuel Juma due to highhandedness. If not carefully managed, Jeff Koinange’s presence may bring down Citizen TV.
The fallout at Citizen comes just five months after RMS fired some of its key presenters, including Terryanne Jebet, Abdi Osman and Kendagor Obadia, and is likely to affect its stability ahead of the elections. But the issue of huge pay gaps is not unique in media. A check on most media houses will reveal unimaginable pay gaps with people working in the same department having a 100% difference.