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Kenyan Radio Angers the People – Where Stations Lost the Plot

Gambling promotions and the same old tropes are fueling disaffection

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Gambling promotions and the same old tropes are fueling disaffection towards one of Kenya’s largest media sub-sectors – Radio.

Radio is by far the most accessible broadcast media for a majority of Kenyans across the country. As a matter of fact, Kenya as of 2017 had the largest radio advertising market in Africa and the Middle East – valued at  Ksh217 billion according to a PwC report, it stood ahead of larger economies like Nigeria and South Africa.

The influx of radio promotions that require listening participants to part with fees anywhere between Ksh10 and Ksh200 via mobile money, in particular, have been singled out as exploitative. While they take on different forms their core proposition is the same – a chance to win big money by answering a super-simple question, making predictions or simply engaging with the show.

Effectively, they target as many listeners as  possible who part with the cash either through premium SMS services or mobile money. Youth, middle-aged Kenyans and the elderly are all active participants in these promotions.

READ>>KRA Eyes Betting Billions With 20% Stake Tax

The Betting Control and Licensing Board in July 2021 also banned radio stations from runnning lotteries claiming an unholy alliance between the media houses and betting license holders. It demanded they seek prior approval. Not much, however, has changed since.

“In the recent past, the operation of Prize Competition and short term lotteries has experienced some level of abuse where permit/license holders instead of carrying out lotteries themselves, they enter into an agreement with media stations (especially radio) to undertake the same including conducting draws on their behalf,” BLCB stated.

Betting permit holders are required to conduct such activities as normal radio advertisements  oversighted by officers from the board.

“Pay bill and account numbers must be promoted in the name of the permit holder carrying out the promotion and not the radio station. This will facilitate monitoring by the public and various government agencies to enhance accountability,”  the board noted at the time.

More Kenyans are taking to social media everyday to slam the country’s biggest radio stations – sparking a wave of negative sentiment against radio stations in Kenya.

The fact that many other programs on Kenyan radio follow the same old formula, such as the famous comedian-journo combo, also is proving a need for fresh thought and creativity in Kenya’s media houses.

Sample these Kenyans’ thoughts:




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MARTIN SIELEhttps://loud.co.ke/
Martin K.N Siele is the Content Lead at Business Today. He is also a Quartz contributor and a 2021 Baraza Media Lab-Fringe Graph Data Storytelling Fellow. Passionate about digital media, sports and entertainment, Siele also founded Loud.co.ke
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  1. A question was ever asked in a popular radio station,
    “Who is the son of God in the bible?
    A. Osama
    B. Jesus ”
    The responses were shocking all saying, “Osama” .I tried calling to answer and earn the sh.40,000 attached to the question, shockingly every single dial costed an airtime of sh.10 and the call was never picked.I spent more than sh.100. All could be heard is the radio tune playing as skiza.
    I can’t trust them any longer.


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