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Media face huge losses in presidential debate debacle

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If the debate fails, media houses under the Debates Media Ltd (Standard Group, Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services) will miss out on over Sh200 million in advertising.

The live broadcast debate involving running mates of eight presidential candidates hangs in the balance after a majority failed to confirm participation. The main presidential candidates – Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga – have yet to confirm their participation, leaving the event hanging on to the word of the two major principals and putting over Sh100 million investment at stake.

In fact, the other six presidential candidates have also threatened to pull out of the TV debate terming it discriminatory. The move by organisers to have two-time slots for the debates –one pitting the main contenders (President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga) and the other the other presidential candidates.

The first presidential debate was slated for July 10 but was called off after President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga protested against the format and the fact that they had not been involved by the organisers. The next debate has been set for July 24th.

Mr Wachira Waruru, the chairman Debates Media Limited, which is organizing the presidential debate, said the debate was on schedule. “Preparations are on course. We are hoping they will turn up for the debate,” he said.

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The other presidential candidates including Thirdway Alliance flag bearer Ekuru Aukot and independent candidates Michael Wainaina and Japheth Kaluyu said they could not take part in a debate where they have been divided into two groups (two tiers). “Further to our previous communications on the above-referenced matter, you are yet to clarify to us that you are not pursuing two tier presidential debates,” reads an official statement.

Discriminatory approach

“Should you, therefore, be still committed to this discriminatory approach, the undersigned being duly cleared presidential candidates and their running mates will have no option but not to participate in what is a clearly unconstitutional, illegal and discriminatory process,” the statement continued.

If the debate fails, media houses under the Debates Media Ltd (Standard Group, Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services) will miss out on over Sh200 million in advertising. It will also be embarrassing for media houses, which have been hyping an event that marks he climax of the presidential campaigns.

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Uncertainty is also looming over Monday’s running mates debate following the failure of Deputy President William Ruto and NASA’s running mate candidate Kalonzo Musyoka to confirm their participation.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa said he had been asked to represent the DP at the debate scheduled for today at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

Running mates run away, too

Kimani explained the DP would be away at the Coast campaigning for Jubilee Party. “I have not communicated to the organisers, nor have they communicated to me,” said Ichung’wa. NASA Chief Executive Norman Magaya said there had been no formal communication from the organisers, saying the alliance learnt about the debate in the media.

Yesterday, evening, six running mates, Eliud Kariara, Emmanuel Nzai, Joseph Momanyi, Miriam Mutua, Titus N’getuny and Moses Maranga wrote to Debates Media Limited chairman Wachira Waruru indicating they were yet to receive communication on whether there would be a two-tier approach to the debate.

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Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

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