Deputy President William Ruto has increased his portfolio in Mediamax Network Ltd, the media house associated in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, after initially buying a stake in Milele FM.
According to reliable sources, Ruto, who has since made his presence in the company felt by launching Kalenjin language radio station, Emoo FM, is now eyeing People Daily and K24.
Business Today has learnt that the Kenyatta family is willing to reduce its shareholding in the DSM Place-headquartered company and the DP, who has been making multi-billion investments in various sectors, including acquisition of 680 Hotel, is more than ready to step in.
Apart from Milele FM, People Daily and K24, Mediamax also owns Kameme FM, Kameme TV, Mayian FM, Pilipili FM and Meru FM.
Insiders says its ownership is structured in such a way that various investors own a stake in particular segments.
Ruto is believed to have first bought shares in Milele FM from Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja, who is a former Mediamax Executive Chairman, before spreading his wings to other divisions.
Before buying shares in Mediamax Network Ltd, the Deputy President had no direct presence in media and relied on the goodwill of his friends in various media houses. In Kalenjin media circles, he has influence at Kass FM and TV, but it is said his attempt to acquire shareholding was frustrated by the owner Joshua Chepkwony, who happens to be his long-time friend, who has avoided business ties with politicians. Chepkwony is the CEO of Kass FM International, which runs Kass FM and TV and the defunct Kass Weekly newspaper.
Apart from Emoo FM, there are also plans to launch a Kalenjin TV station under the Mediamax stable.
The plan is to restructure the company in such a way that the DP will have a controlling stake in the two Kalenjin stations as well as People Daily and K24.
Ruto’s keen interest in the media is said to have been influenced by his desire to ascend to the presidency in 2022 when President Kenyatta’s second time comes to an end.
However, unlike President Kenyatta, who rarely interferes with the media house’s editorial operations, Ruto is said to be very sensitive and there are fears that he may undermine Mediamax’s editorial independence.
According to insiders, the few times he goes to the newsroom at DMS Place along Kijabe Street, he ensures he checks People Daily editors’ choice of the next edition’s page one headline just like he used to do at the defunct Kenya Times when he was the Kanu secretary general.