Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria is known for his daring and often times reckless talk, politically speaking. His demeanor does not cut the collected image of a shrewd businessman with eye for opportunities, less so in the fluid and highly competitive media industry.
But that would be judging a book by its title. Business Today has learnt that Mr Kuria, a close associate of President Uhuru Kenyatta, is the investor behind FANAKA TV, which hit the news mid-May after appointing former Citizen TV presenter Terryanne Chebet as chief executive.
Mr Kuria launched the TV channel in April 2017 as an entertainment station to provide jobs and other opportunities for young people mainly from his constituency.
The founding CEO was former beauty queen and Miss Kenya 2015 Charity Mwangi, a resident of Gatundu South. Mr Kuria organized for Charity to even meet President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House just a month after FANAKA went on air, as part of plans to get the president’s buy-in into the idea.
Mr Kuria later brought in former radio presenter Jimmy Gathu, who left recently after failing to take the entertainment model off the ground. But after a year of false starts, the station is now repositioning itself as a business content television station. And that task now lies squarely on the shoulders of Terryanne, who has lately been touring international TV stations for benchmarking.
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The station is looking at distributions on multi-platforms with a heavy presence on digital, as advertising on conventional TV shrinks.
With media more and politicians getting into media business, Moses Kuria could just be taking that cue. A number of politicians own newspapers, radio and TV stations which they bank on during elections or to push their agenda. Or perhaps, it could just be his business side showing up and marks the beginning of a media business empire.
Being an MP and close to the President, he can easily marshal advertising from counties and government departments as well as parastatals to sustain the TV station and leave him with some profit. The station is said to be recruiting fresh talent to run its programmes.
The new direction seeks to put it in the mainstream league to compete for both viewers and advertising. This different thinking at FANAKA TV has also raised speculation on whether new investors have come on board. The name of Deputy President William Ruto has been mentioned but it’s not clear yet whether he already has a stake in it, given that he has bought controlling interest in Mediamax, which owns K24, People Daily newspaper and a number of radio stations.
Maybe he is a front of someone more powerful in the political pecking order.