The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: The Media Industry Registers Robust Growth in the Last 10 Years

The media has enjoyed a robust growth in the 10 years President Kibaki has been in power than any other time. This growth was in terms of training, liberalisation of the airwaves and reduction in cases of clamping down on the freedom of the press.

A supplement by State House titled Building a Working and Caring Nation, a paid-for advert which will run on Saturday in the Weekend Star states:

From just eight television stations in 2002, the country now boasts of 19 which is more than double. But the largest growth has been in radio where 81 stations are now ruling the airwaves, up from 16 in 2002, majority being those that broadcast in the vernacular and the community radio stations.

"Before President Kibaki came into office, the freedom of the press was severely circumscribed. The government has however, given the media the necessary leeway for objective reporting. President Kibaki's government valued objective reporting to ensure the government was kept on check," the advert says.

But this legacy was diluted by the raid of the Standard Group in March 2006 when heavily armed and hooded mercenaries hired by individuals in the government attacked the media house's premises in Nairobi and burned newspapers. The mercenaries also carried away KTN equipment that are still under police custody.

The morning after the attack, then Internal Security Minister John Michuki who died this year and a Kibaki administration insider famously remarked that, "when you rattle a snake, you must be ready to be bitten by it," a statement that squarely placed the state as the culprits.

It was also during the Kibaki era that the government enacted the Media Act in 2007 that created the Media Council of Kenya as the industry regulator.

Noteworthy, though, is that the media at one time held street demonstrations to oppose a retrogressive proposed legislation.

This could be seen in two ways, first that the Kibaki administration wanted to limit media freedom, but on a positive note, that there was expanded freedom of expression and association.

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