4 February 2013

Kenya: Wangusi Denies Royal Media Move 'Political'

THE Communication Commission of Kenya has denied claims that it shut down six broadcast transmitters belonging to Royal Media Services for political reasons.

Francis Wangusi, CCK's director general, said they only did what is expected of them as the industry regulator. ODM secretary general Anyang' Nyong'o yesterday questioned the dismantling of the transmitters, saying the timing is suspicious.

Addressing a press conference at a Kisumu hotel, Nyong'o termed CCK's move as dictatorial and a disregard to media freedom. "We know this is an attempt by some government officials to gag the media ahead of the elections," said the Medical Services minister.

He said RMS was targeted because SK Macharia, its owner, is a member of Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Cord. CCK on Saturday pulled down six RMS broadcast transmitters saying they were being operated without a license and using unauthorised or "grabbed" frequencies.

The pull down put Citizen TV off-air in Nakuru, Narok, Makueni and Malindi. The regulator said the six transmitters are among 17 illegal being targeted for shut down in the next few days.

"Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya Airways have raised concern with CCK about threats to the safety of our airspace due to interferences emanating from these illegal transmitters," Wangusi said during a press conference yesterday.

Wangusi said they will start legal proceedings against Macharia today. Section 35 of the Kenya Information and Communications Act outlaws the setting up and operation of communications apparatus without authorisation from CCK.

The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to Sh5 million or a three year imprisonment or both. There are 24 more frequencies which CCK says the company acquired in the same manner between 2008 and 2012. The RMS lost their bid to stop CCK from shutting down the transmitters in a High Court hearing last month.

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