Communications Authority of Kenya formerly CCK has lately been exercising its newly acquired title with a couple of changes in its roles which now include monitoring local content aired in various media platforms in the country which might have been there but with minimal enforcement.
Today, the regulator held a breakfast talk with broadcasters, stakeholders as well as regulators in the media sector to express concern on material aired on television today. Many will agree with the fact that broadcasters have taken a turn on programming and content on our screens in this day and time is more of commercial than of public interest. Programmes have also taken a reality turn and now act as the mirror of the society both positively and negatively.
Media houses have been blamed to compete for ratings leaving out public interest and codes that should be considered when programming content. Soap Operas and Nigerian movies (dubbed Afro cinema) came up as a pressing issue since they have taken over local television channels and are now a culture that the audiences are more drawn to as opposed to Riverwood which is purely Kenyan.
This would make sense to be against considering Nigeria’s film industry direct contribution to the country is USD 590 million (KES 50.9 Billion) as compared to Kenya’s film industry contribution which is only KES 1.95 Billion. The difference comes in the copyrighting sector which has been neglected by both broadcasters and audience who obtain material from unauthorized sources.
According to the expectations by the Communication Authority of Kenya, Media houses should meet percentage levels of local content aired which has been set on yearly terms; 40% by June 2015, 50% by June 2016 and 60% by June 2018. This has however been repeated over the years therefore questioning how committed the government sector is in implementing the regulation.
The commission therefore promised to have penalties applied to ensure local content is given priority by the companies which will in turn stabilize performance of the industry in the country. CA will also see to it that local content is shared equally between media house production and Independent local producers. The Communication’s Authority also put across pointers that should be considered before airing any local content on local television stations or any other platforms used in this case.
- Majority Artistes are Kenyans
- Production in Kenya’s native languages or official languages
- Production and shooting should be in Kenya
- Deals with issues unique and relevant to Kenyan audiences
- 20% production company owned by Kenyans
- 50% of authors must be Kenyan
- Production under Kenyan creative and technical control
In the same breath, Kenya Film Classification Board criticized local content aired by the media houses arguing that media platforms’ producers do not consider moral decency and more importantly protection of minors which is as a result of omitting classification and ratings for various programmes during normal viewer time. Sexual explicitness in content aired before watershed period has been reported to exceed compared to past years which has jeopardized moral values among young adults and children.
Media houses will also be expected to deliver performance portfolio on local content aired each time they renew their license. This will enable the regulator to keep tabs on progress made. Content with no commercial significance will also be monitored to ensure that the different houses give back to the society. Sign language interpreters are now an outfit all media houses should have as a way of embracing the disabled community.
Kenya’s Industry is not yet there
The Kenyan industry should be in a position to attain standards set by the regulator only if the government which is part of regulating body steps in to help. For the longest time, broadcasters and Media houses have been viewed as revenue generating platforms instead of potential partners who can contribute immensely to the economy of Kenya by getting governmental support and investment.
Mwara Kung’u CEO Mundu Mwara studios entered Kenya film’s market four years ago with an aim of establishing an Animation production platform aimed at producing original Kenya-centric animated content in entertainment and education. Things however did not turn out as expected for her venture which she says failed to take the right track in the industry due to lack of supportive bodies and funds in the industry. After talking to multiple personnel she thought would help, Mwara Kungu got tired of being referred to different bodies which did not turn out to be of any help or even worse concern.
Until the country is able to get to the point at which the regulator expects, various challenges will have to be dealt with. Here are first steps the government and relevant bodies should look into;
- Establish credible means of converting local content to digital form that can be spread across media platforms
- Create sufficient training institutions for content creators
- Provide financial resources for content developers in the industry
- Ensure up to standard technology facilities which include studios, cameras etc
- Support startups aiming to get into the film industry or even broadcasters
Without a substantial take off, the industry will still suffer the same problems over and over. Engaging the media is also one the regulators should consider and not bashing them. yes, they are an Authority however, it would be better if the established and upcoming broadcasters felt part of the communication sector.