Kenya: Broadcaster Probed Over Frequencies

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A parliamentary committee is investigating how the Royal Media Services acquired 61 radio frequencies.

The chairman of the Committee on Communications James Rege disclosed that Royal Media Services had the second highest number of radio frequencies and the largest amount of any private broadcast company. Government broadcaster KBC has 84 FM frequencies, the highest number in the country.

"The committee that I chair is currently investigating how one person acquired all these frequencies and we will bring our findings to this House," he said.

Royal Media Services runs Citizen TV, Citizen Radio, Inooro, Mulembe FM, Ramogi FM and other FM radio stations. It is owned by Mr S.K. Macharia. Information minister Samuel Poghisio said that Royal Media Services had the second highest number of frequencies but did not disclose the amount it spent to acquire them.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim intervened to block Poghisio from replying to a question by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale (New Ford-K), who wanted the minister to confirm whether the businessman was paying less for the frequencies than other broadcasters. "There are no special fees per media house but the charges are reviewed from time to time. It is also true that some companies have not paid for the frequencies and the House is at liberty to investigate," said Poghisio.

Dr Khalwale was dissatisfied with the answer that there was no special fee attached to a frequency and that the charges were reviewed from time to time. "Can the minister confirm that it costs Sh130,000 per frequency and that the Royal Media Services pays only Sh30,000 per frequency?" he asked.

The Nation (Nairobi) 12 August 2008