The Media Council of Kenya has condemned actions meted against three independent media houses the government claimed worked in favour of illegal activities by NASA and demanded that they be allowed to do their job.
“The Media Council of Kenya is shocked at the recent turn of events in our country where a political contest has turned into the greatest threat and assault on freedom of expression and media in Kenya’s recent history. It is deeply regrettable that for the second day running, Royal Media Services’ Citizen TV and Inooro TV, Nation Media Group’s NTV and Standard Media Group’s KTN News channels remain switched off by Communications Authority of Kenya,” the MCK CEO chairman David Omwoyo said in a statement.
He noted that while it was initially alleged that the switch off was to stop the media outlets from airing live the swearing in ceremony of NASA leader Raila Odinga, more than 24 hours later, their signals have not been restored and no explanation has been put forward as to when they will be allowed to resume operations.
“We appreciate the government’s position that investigations are going on about the events of yesterday. However, the Council does not believe that switching on the said media outlets will interfere with investigations. In addition, the alleged event has long been concluded.
This act erodes the gains so far made in developing a free and responsible media industry and should never happen in a robust democracy that Kenya boasts of. As guaranteed by the Kenyan Constitution, media freedom should be guarded jealously at all times,” Omwoyo added.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had earlier said the TV stations would remain shut until a probe into NASA’s alleged subversive activities is concluded and action taken against those found culpable.
But according to Omwoyo, the switching off while targeting the media houses is denying Kenyans the right to information as guaranteed by Article 33 of the Constitution which states that ‘every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas.
He also cited Article 34 that says ‘freedom and independence of electronic, print and all other types of media is guaranteed and the State shall not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in
broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium.’
“It is important to appreciate that media houses once licenced to operate are free to make their editorial decisions. We now call upon all agencies involved to immediately restore the signals and broadcasting abilities of the media houses. Any investigations and discussions can go on when the media houses have resumed their normal broadcasting,” he said.
The MCK, however, asked media practitioners to exercise their freedom with responsibility and due regard to the Code of Ethics and the law of the land.