Kenya: Contentious Media Bill Revised

Regulation & Policy

Renaming of the controversial Media Bill was among the amendments agreed after industry stakeholders and a Parliamentary committee met. The Bill, which is awaiting the second reading in Parliament, is now called the Media Council of Kenya Bill 2007, and allows the industry to regulate itself. The Information minister has also lost powers to appoint the chairman of the media regulation body as proposed in the earlier Bill.

The changes come as the Media Owners Association presented its draft. The Parliamentary Select committee on Energy, Communication and Public Works reached the amendments following a meeting with media players in Mombasa. The new Bill also seeks to give the council powers to enforce its ruling, chairman of the committee and Baringo Central MP, Mr Gideon Moi, said.

Provisions giving the Government powers to regulate the media were also struck out. Kenya Union of Journalists secretary general, Ezekiel Mutua, praised the changes. "Self-regulation will enable journalists name and shame, but still retain their jobs," said Mutua. Before, organisations that were to nominate members of the council were 14, now they are nine.

Moi said some of the organisations proposed earlier had no value to the council. The second proposed regulatory body, the Advisory Council, has also been left out. Media owners felt the earlier name implied that the Bill would duplicate some of the Communications Commission of Kenya functions. It also seemed to duplicate the broadcasting and sections of the Books and Newspapers Act. Meanwhile, chairman of the Media Owners Association, Hanningtone Gaya, says Information minister, Mutahi Kagwe, asked the association to present its draft in three weeks. "We will present our draft today (Wednesday) for amendments," he said.

(East African Standard (Nairobi), 8 June 2007)