There are two shops in our court and one is mine. The other one up until two weeks ago was a demo shop; a demo shop because the owner cum shop keeper was never in the shop most of the time thereby making my shop the only one in the court.
Then she sold her shop to a new owner who has given me quite a competition.
In the past two weeks my shop’s revenues have fallen by half. “Why did she have to sell the shop?” my shop keeper heard me ask. “It’s because of soaps” she answered. “How are the two related?” I roared back. It’s not in me to roar but the deepening revenues has got the best of me. Thank goodness the shop keeper understood and calmly answered, “Those times when her shop was kept opened but no one was present to attend to customers was because she (the owner) was always glued to her TV watching the Mexican soaps and Naija movies. She has since chosen the soaps over the shop hence her decision to sell the shop”. If the soaps were banned, she could not have sold the shop, right?
Today the media fraternity is planning to fight the new media law. In addition to the the contentious control and regulatory clauses together with penalties for media houses’ and journalists’ misconduct, the media owners and operators also do not like the clause requiring them to meet the 60% threshold for local content. They argue that local content do not meet quality standards that would keep viewers glued to their screens the same way the International content has kept Kenyans busy watching. When referring to International content, what the media owners are talking about are basically the Mexican, Filipino, Indian and Nigerian soaps.
If however one was to dissect those International soaps, it will be easy to see that apart from the Mexican soaps, the other ones are equally poorly acted and to a large extent badly produced. Most of the stunts especially those around action scenes are artificial and fake. Sound tracks are wanting. Mexican soaps on the other hand are almost 100% predictable. In pure acting, Kenyan actors have been ranked better than their Nigerian counterparts many times.
What these imply is that “poorly produced local content” is an excuse by the Media houses to air cheaply acquired Mexican and Nigerian movies at the expense of supporting local content. Kenyans have shown some love to local content especially those airing on Citizen TV. Shows like Mother in Law, Inspector Mwala, Tahidi High (though dwindling of late), Machachari, Papa Shirandula, Vioja Mahakamani and Vitimbi on KBC, Churchil Show and Mali on NTV, and Tujuane on KTN have received much love from Kenyans. Shows from neighboring countries like Hostel on NTV have equally been liked; thus Kenyans will watch local content with interesting scripts and produced at above average rating.
Multichoice realized the love Kenyans are showing for locally produced content and has since produced KONA that airs on AfricaMagic Channels 151 and 154 on Dstv. As much as the movie Nairobi Half Life did not meet the Hollywood production standards, it is a movie that proved that Kenyans can go to the cinemas to watch their own.
The argument here is that the media houses should be pushed to produce local content and one way to do this is to ban the damn Mexican soaps and boring Naija movies. Truth is, Mexicans and Nigerians do not watch Kenyan content. The other truth is, Mexican soaps and Naija movies are popular the world over because they were made to be accepted their respective countries, first. The last truth is, a neighbor will not love yours if you don’t love it first. Once the media houses have been pushed to produce and promote local content, the quality will improve in scripting, acting and production, and the cost of doing so reduced. From Redykyulass to Red Corner to Churchil Live and now Churchil Show is a living testimony.
There are those other reasons that support banning of Mexican soaps. I have already talked about my competitor who finally sold her shop thanks to the soaps. How would anyone lose a business opportunity simply because she prefers to stretch her legs watching soaps? There are families that have been broken simply because the woman would not perform her household chores as she would rather spend the precious hours watching Alejandro kiss Isabel; and cry with them. I know of house girls who will let the babies cry because the babies woke up in the midst of a Mexican soap – that is at a time not right for feeding the baby. There have been accusations that the Mexican soaps instill customs that are against our African traditional cultures, make our youth have unrealistic expectations from relationships, and generally degrade our moral standing in society.
How do you raise children in the midst of all these confusions?
If banning these soaps is too much of a calling, then restrict them to be aired once per week per TV station. The created air time should go to locally produced content. I’m talking to you Media Owners Association and the Government of Kenya.