Kenya - Radio, TV stations face tough content rules from July

Regulation & Policy

Radio and television stations airing adult-rated content between 5am and 10pm risk losing their licences as the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) starts to enforce the controversial Programming Code in two weeks.

The regulator said Tuesday the code comes into effect from July 1.

The Programming Code for free-to-air radio and television services  gives the regulator powers to revoke the licences of radio and television stations that air adult-rated content between 5am and 10pm.

The CA says the Programming Code is aimed at preventing the airing of material that is unsuitable for children.

“The grace period agreed for the implementation of the Programming Code comes to an end in June,” John Omo, CA director legal affairs said yesterday during the unveiling of a report on television local content baseline survey.

“The authority will from July 1, 2016 commence enforcement action against non-compliant licensees on the provisions of the Programming Code.”

The survey is meant to provide a foundation upon which the new code would be effected. Through the surveys, the CA said it sought to establish specific audience concerns with respect to content aired on TV and radio such as use of bad language, portrayal of sex, nudity, stereotypes and violence across a range of genres, amongst other concerns.

The introduction of the code, in April last year sparked a protest from the media and Media Council of Kenya (MCK), which said CA was over-stepping its mandate in trying to regulate media content.

The MCK is a statutory body established by the Media Council Act to regulate the media content, the conduct and discipline of journalists.

The CA has in the past defended its action saying, that the Kenya Information and Communications Act 1998 and the Kenya Information and Communications Broadcasting regulations 2009, require the authority to prescribe a programming code for free-to air radio and television services.

The MCK and broadcasters have based their arguments on Article 34 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the media from government control.
Source: The Standard 14 July 2016