Okiya Omtatah asks court to declare TV shutdown illegal

Thursday February 1 2018

Okiya Omtatah.

Activist Okiya Omtatah. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Activist Okiya Omtatah has moved to court seeking a declaration that the switch off of TV stations by the government is illegal and against the Constitution.
In a petition to be filed this morning, Mr Omtatah argues that the move by the State to shut down TV stations including NTV, Citizen and KTN News is a violation of Article 33 and 34 of the Constitution.

He wants the court to issue an order compelling the government to compensate the TV stations for pecuniary loss incurred during the switch off as well as general damages for violation of his rights as a consumer and the media houses.

The Activist argues that there is an immediate cause for concern over the constitutionality of the government’s action of switching off television.

“Without warning and without giving any reasons, in the morning of 30th January, 2018, the Respondents switched off (shut down) free to air transmission on television channels owned by the first to third interested parties,” he said in the petition.

He argues that Article 33(1) guarantees to every person the right to freedom of expression, which includes, freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas.

Also, the public's right to information under Article 35 is directly affected since the switch off curtailed the public’s right of access to information broadcast by the media houses.