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New regulations on radio and TV in Kenya

Monday 4 July 2016, by Alejandro Hernandez

Nairobi, July 4th, 2016 (The Standard). Since the beginning of the month, radio and television broadcasters in Kenya have to air 40 % local content and observe restrictions on adult content. In the new far-reaching regulations, no broadcaster in Kenya is allowed to air adult-only programmes during the daytime. The stations have to submit programmes to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) for scrutiny. The new regulations released by CA Director-General Francis Wangusi early July require broadcasters to submit recorded events to the authority immediately after airing live functions.

Speaking at the CA offices, Mr Wangusi said non-compliance would first attract warnings, followed by a fine of Sh 500,000 or 0.2 per cent of the broadcaster’s turnover, whichever was higher. The regulations came into effect after the lapse of a six-month grace period for compliance ended the beginning of July. These new broadcast regulations place strict limits on sexual content and ban preachers from soliciting money from audiences in exchange for blessings on air. The BBC explained a few weeks ago that some preachers are thought to have built large fortunes from the practice, gaining huge popularity in a country where 84% of the population are Christians, although there have been cases of people suing them when their blessings failed to materialize. Traditional churches have been highly critical of these types of preachers, describing them as false teachers.

CA also noted that a parallel code from the Media Owners Association (MOA) that had recommended changes to the one issued by CA had been reviewed. "The purpose of this code is to act as a baseline to any other consequent code. So we have reviewed the MOA code and advised to have it aligned with the new code," said Wangusi. Some of the changes MOA had proposed include regulations on when to air hate speech remarks and inclusion of news as local content to make all media compliant to the 40 per cent requirement. "Of course some broadcasters have cited that news is the most expensive programming but for now, our laws do not recognize news as local content," said Wangusi. CA Director of Multi Media Services Leo Boruett said the authority will soon look into the genres of programming in relation to the 40 per cent local content. The code will be reviewed every two years.

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