Kenya: Matiang'i Says 3 TV Stations to Remain Shut Pending Probe

Photo: Capital FM
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi
31 January 2018

The Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National government, Dr Fred Matiang'i, has said that three local TV stations shut down Tuesday by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) will remain closed until investigations over their supposed links with the Nasa wing of the National Resistance Movement, which he outlawed on Tuesday, are concluded.

The three, Nation Media Group's NTV, Citizen TV of Royal Media Services Limited and KTN News channel, had their main transmission centres in Limuru blocked, while the state run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and K24, associated with President Kenyatta, were allowed to operate.

Dr Matiang'i's announcement comes amid public disquiet over the government's arbitrary shutdown of the three private TV stations.

MEDIA FREEDOM

Central Organisation of Trade Unions-Kenya Secretary-General Francis Atwoli has accused the government of interfering with the freedom of the media.

The CA shut down the TV stations on Tuesday as they prepared to cover the "swearing-in" of Nasa leader Mr Raila Odinga as the people's president at Uhuru Park.

Mr Atwoli, who spoke in Nairobi Wednesday, said that the move is illegal and goes against the Constitution of Kenya, which grants the freedom of the media, access to information and right to fair administrative action, among others.

"The government should move with speed and restore the operations of these TV stations. It is not only wrong but unconstitutional to block them for going about their normal business of informing Kenyans," Mr Atwoli said adding, "This is not the time to go retrogressive."

He added; "It doesn't even happen in countries where presidents are hell-bent on causing problems to their people. The media have a right to cover events without harassment or intimidation."

EDITORS GUILD

The shutdown is a culmination of fears by the Kenya Editors Guild Chairman Linus Kaikai that President Kenyatta "expressly threatened" to shut down and revoke the licences of any media house that would broadcast live the planned "swearing-in" of Nasa leaders.

According to Mr Kaikai, the "threats" were issued at State Hhouse on January 26 after media owners were summoned for briefing over the Nasa event.

"The Guild is appalled by the details of the meeting which was held under an atmosphere of intimidation for the media representatives present. This brazen threat is intended to intimidate the media from performing its rightful role of informing the public on matters affecting them," Mr Kaikai said.

Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary-General Erick Oduor also condemned the government crackdown on the media.

"This is unacceptable and can only support our analysis that we are facing the worst threats in the history of this country as the media," Mr Oduor said.

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