Kenya: Ban On Live Coverage is Still in Force

Regulation & Policy

The ban on live media coverage will remain in force until calm is restored, the Government has said.

This ban meant that the opening of Parliament was not be transmitted live as has been the tradition.

Information PS, Dr Bitange Ndemo, said the embargo was to ensure that the public was "not fed with statements or actions that could fan the tension in the country". "We want the media to be responsible and air material that is not injurious to peace, especially at this time of heightened tension," said Ndemo.

He added: "If media stations have technology to review and edit real-time material before airing, then the Government has no problem, but we do not want to have irresponsible reporting as already experienced in most FM radio stations."

Asserting the Government's position on the ban at a media forum to review the political impasse in the country, Information and Communication minister, Mr Samuel Poghisio, said the move to suspend real-time coverage was aimed at curbing "the inciting nature of some political pronouncements like were being made on December 30". He added that live radio and TV news bulletins are not affected by the ban.

Meanwhile, top media women have unveiled a joint campaign to send powerful messages on truth, justice and reconciliation. The campaign, 'Healing the Nation', intends to ensure that broadcast and published materials tell the truth. They called for a radical shift in news packaging to ensure that coverage in volatile areas does not stir further chaos.

The Deputy Managing Editor of The Standard, Weekend Editions, Jane Godia, among other speakers, advised journalists to desist from using inflammatory language, as it would only serve to aggravate the situation. "We cannot suppress the truth, but can we do it without pitting a neighbour against another or one tribe against another?" Godia asked. She added that the media must speak in a language that will bring Kenyans together and heal the nation, a sentiment that was supported by all in attendance.

(The East African Standard (Nairobi), 15 January 2008)