8 May 2013

Kenya: Govt Wasting Millions On Obituaries, Sycophantic Ads

Nairobi — The government is being urged to cut spending on advertisements after revelation that an average of Sh200 million is spent every month on congratulatory messages and obituaries.

The Director of Public Communication in the Ministry of Information Mary Ombara said that the amount was spent in placing such adverts every month from June last year to April this year.

She further stated that the frequency of such adverts was costly and pointed out ways of consolidating them and reducing their frequency was being explored to reduce the expense.

"The total advertising expenditure for GoK institutions, state agencies and parastatals for the period between June 2012 and April 2013 was Sh2,802,478,259. This was only on three main dailies and excludes the electronic media. The average monthly spending therefore is Sh200 million," she said.

"The committee wishes to say that it will be critical at this stage to rationalise GoK spending on adverts, a huge chunk of which goes to repeated political congratulatory messages and obituaries," she pointed out.

She further revealed that the Information Ministry is in the process of finalizing the National Public Communications Policy 2013 to rationalize all issues to do with advertising.

"The ministry is hastening the completion of the National Public Communications Policy (2013) to rationalize all issues in GoK Communication, including advertising. The second draft NPC policy is almost complete and will be discussed by all stakeholders in June 2013."

She was speaking during a media briefing where she also pointed out that the Digital Transition Committee recently met and decided to incorporate other consumer organizations to resolve the matter amicably.

"Discussions are currently on-going with the aim of reducing the high cost of the digital migration and therefore reaching an agreeable switch-off date," she stated.

Ombara stated that a Cabinet memo whose objective is to subsidise costs has been drawn up by the government and that the possibility of issuance of vouchers to the public has been proposed.

"There is a concerted push by the government for the development of massive local content to interest Kenyans in the migration.

Aggressive advertising will be undertaken under the Content Development Strategy. We are reviewing and considering customizing the model applied by the UK where digital migration has been slow," she said.

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