Media firms instructed to implement new programming standards

Monday January 11 2016

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Broadcasters have until June to begin implementing a programming code by the Communications Authority of Kenya ( CA), which has sparked a furore.

The Programming Code for Free to Air Radio and Television was published in December 2015 but has since gone controversial with religious media houses terming it unfair.

Media owners, on the other hand, claimed CA rushed to publish the code in a move to muzzle it.

The code dictates standards that broadcasters must adhere to within religion, entertainment, airing of local content, presidential election coverage and watershed hours.

The CA for instance stops sensational content from being aired outside watershed hours.

It sets the hours within 5 am to 10 pm. It also bans broadcasters from sex talk during the day.

In a press briefing on Monday CA Director General Francis Wangusi said that broadcasters found violating the code shall be fined penalties from Sh500,000 to 0.2 per cent of their gross annual turnover.

“We call on consumers to internalise the provisions on the code so that they may monitor the performance of broadcasters and where necessary lodge complaints in instances where the code is violated,” said Mr Wangusi.

Media Owners Association Chairman Hanningtone Gaya told the Nation that the biggest complain by the media is the fact that, “we discussed the code with former ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Mr Wangusi and we agreed that they should consult widely before implementation. We were in the midst of discussing it when it was published.”

Religious broadcasters are against sections of the code that describe a cult, saying that churches are included in the description.

They say that three sections were slotted in the code despite an agreement to do away with them.

CA, however, said the code is bench-marked against best practices in countries such Australia, UK, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

Also, the regulator stated that the process of setting up the standards began in April 2015 and churches, viewers and listeners, children associations and media owners were part of the groups consulted.