KTN is on the spotlight after it cancelled Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen’s appearance on Checkpoint, the Sunday night political talk show hosted by Sophia Wanuna.
Murkomen, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, blamed Baringo Senator Gideon Moi for the cancellation, claiming “the struggle between media ownership and editorial independence is real.”
The Moi family holds a substantial stake in the Standard Group, which owns KTN, and is said to have a huge influence on editorial decisions and appointments. Other brands the Group holds include the Standard newspaper, The Nairobian, Mt Kenya Star and Pampazuko.
I am sorry to let you know that my colleague https://t.co/wimoj87AjT has cancelled my appearance at KTN #CheckPoint Tonight. I have always supported media freedom in Kenya. Unfortunately the struggle between media ownership &editorial independence is real….. pic.twitter.com/CIQT29fWRt
— KIPCHUMBA MURKOMEN, E.G.H (@kipmurkomen) July 28, 2019
However, the reactions were mixed. There are those who emphatised with Murkomen but there are also those who backed the decision, holding Murkomen would have been offered a platform to delve on petty politics.
The Elgeyo Marakwet senator has been vocal about the 2022 succession politics and alleged targeting of Ruto allies in the anti-graft war.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, on his part, attributed the cancellation to Murkomen’s move to walk out of the Senate when the Data Protection Bill was up for voting.
“We need a small Man to man chat between the two of you. You walked out when the Data Protection Bill was up for voting. He revenged in the best way possible – cold dish,” he tweeted.
Murkomen has, however, been given a chance to appear on TV by K24’s Anne Kiguta, who also political talk show dubbed Punchline.
Senior counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi also told the senator was welcome to appear on his RTN Somali TV, saying the station airs all views and opinions in any language.
Interestingly, the KTN move came a day before the Standard went to town with a splash headline that President Uhuru Kenyatta snubbed Ruto at JKIA upon arrival from Zambia by using the international passenger terminal instead of the one. Ruto has since dismissed the report as fake news.
Both Ruto and Gideon are angling for the presidency in 2022 and have had several run-ins in the past as they seek to amass influence in the vote-rich Rift Valley.