Top managers at Royal Media Services (RMS) are in a spot after establishing a company that aggregates and commercially distributes media content.
Content Aggregation Company Ltd, which was recently established by, among others, Royal Media Services Managing Director Wachira Waruru, Chief Operations Officer Faridah Karoney and Group Editorial Consultant Peter Opondo, stores, distributes, markets and promotes and monetizes content in all genres on behalf of its content partners through its online platform, viusasa.com.
What is raising eyebrows is the apparent conflict of interest since among the content that the company is distributing is RMS’s own products including live programming and other programmes by Citizen TV, Inooro TV and Ramogi FM.
However, live Citizen TV broadcasts, which had been placed on subscription, have in recent days been left open, perhaps, due to public interest in the current political developments in the country.
The company also distributes and monetises (or intends to) star programmes, music and videos. Some of the programmes already available on the platform include the Churchill Show, Naija and Mexican movies, most of which are aired on Citizen TV.
“These guys are making money through the backdoor. While there is no wrong in engaging in gainful business, one is left to wonder where they draw the line between the professional and commercial interests,” an RMS insider told Business Today on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Eventually, the company intends to have its own broadcasts both in English, Swahili and Sheng as well as vernacular languages such as Bukusu, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kisii, Luhya, Luo, Maasai, Maragoli, Meru and Wanga.
Online content aggregation is a new phenomenon in the Kenyan media scene and it remains to be seen how much progress viusasa will make in the age on social media and citizen journalism.
To access content on the platform, you need to register and then pay Ksh20 to watch videos daily, Ksh100 for a weekly package and Ksh300 monthly. For news, the rates range from Ksh15 per day to Ksh200 per month and Ksh30 and Ksh450 monthly for videos and music respectively.
Sources said their target market is the Kenyan Diaspora and foreign audiences.
Rumuors that Wachira was seeking to form a content production company first emerged immediately Opondo, a former News Managing Editor at Citizen TV, resigned from Mediamax Network Ltd Group Managing Editor two years ago to join RMS as Group Editorial Consultant.
At the time, the two were understood to have teamed up with other investors to start a TV production company for news, features and documentaries across Africa, which appears to have flopped. Opondo has since evolved to effectively become Karoney’s deputy at RMS.