According to a survey by Ipos Ltd, Kenya has fallen ten spots in the World Press Freedom Index which means the freedom of journalists, media houses and the audience is declining by day. Authorities supposed to guard the same also seem to be sleeping in their job or either the bodies are giving into toxic government dominance in the industry.
A majority of Kenyans today mark more than a week of media blackout following forceful shut of analogue signals by the government in forceful demand for the houses to hand content to signet and PANG digital platforms, which as well led to indefinite switch off by the media houses who argue that they have invested an adequate amount of money for them to supply content for free.
GOVERNMENT ON THE WRONG
The government has been accused of interfering with the public’s right to information access by Dr Ekuru Aukot, former Chief executive Officer of the experts committee who wrote the constitution. The lawyer has termed the shut down a complete interference and denial of freedom of the media to the institutions and Kenyans as well, even after swearing to protect media freedom.
Before the switch off, the government called for broadcasters responsible for 90 per cent of television audiences to hand over content to PANG a chinese firm which did not sit well with the content providers. According to Dr. Aukot, the government would suffer no injury if television platforms continued to air content using analogue signals and yet again the move is cited to be interference with the rights of institutions and individuals to information.
However, Communications Authority, Mr. Francis Wangusi has insisted on the importance of switching over following a commitment made by the body to adhere by ITU’s deadline. Even with an option to request for extension from the international union, Mr. Wangusi has resisted back tracking in the migration process.
The media houses operating under African Digital Network had shared their plan to spend more than ksh 800 million on upgrading infrastructure to fit digital requirements upon time extension and in the same period import their own set-top boxes which will cost them another sh4.5 billion.
Kenya to be shut out
Even after Mr Wangusi threatened that the country would attract Sanctions failure to migration, countries that requested for an extension have been allowed to continue using analogue signals beyond June. Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Eriteria are among Kenya’s neighbours that have been granted more time before switch over.
Countries believed to have the ability to switch to digital signals considering higher and better technology levels; Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt are also among the thirty African countries that have been excused.
It is however not clear whether extension might be granted to countries still lagging behind in the digital migration.