According to Communications Authority of Kenya, the local content road map 2014-2018 seeks to promote skills development, national identity and income generation for young Kenyans. The efforts by the authority body made public late last year have been placed to create a vibrant and globally competitive entertainment industry.
Besides creating a vibrant and global competition, the government is also looking to increase the GDP contributed by the industry that now stands at 5.3 percent of the total GDP. Kenyan media houses have been said to air programmes that are more of commercial than of public interest. In the same breathe, media houses have been blamed to compete for ratings which has affected the kind of content aired with most of it being foreign.
However much the government and authorized bodies may set out to criticize the content aired, concerned parties should keep in mind that these broadcasters are in business like any other entrepreneurs that mind their products and services. Kenyan content is definitely underplayed in the country but this is because most of these local talent content whether in the film industry or music industry is below standards quality wise.
If Kenya emulated Nigeria’s local content promotion especially in the film industry where the sector contributed USD 590 million GDP (KES 50.9 Billion) as of October last year, the economy would get a notable boost from home made content. However, comparing the content produced in Nigeria to Kenya’s, the country’s sector still has a long way to go for it to be worth the money.
For Kenyan content to be promoted in the country, the creative industry will have to work on factors that are points of injury in the sector; Improve the way of production, upgrading technology and resources used to produce the local content and educating artists on content production to ensure high receipt of content produced by the society.
The government of Kenya has also played a big part in the downfall of the creative industry by providing minimal financial support. Even after the roll out of funds to support the industry, individual artists have not gotten a taste of the money and those who have received any funds, the package has been more of a loan payable with immense interests.
The government has also not owned up to its promise of providing facilities such as creative education centers and social halls in residential areas that will cater for young growing talents. The government has been more of authoritative talk than action with unnecessary emphasis on regulating media houses to enforce airplay even though the content still needs a lot of work put in.
By enforcing regulations and penalties on broadcasters, the government is only being mean to force bogus content on the entities most of which are private businesses. By adapting amateur content, the media houses will suffer low ratings and in turn loose businesses to foreign media.
Artists on the other hand have gotten sold on the idea that airplay is a right for them without considering content upgrade. In a recent peaceful demonstration by the artists, Kenyan musicians asked to get 70 per cent local airplay and higher investment in local music for the media houses. As of March this year, Citizen television was the leading television channel in regard with local content transmission with 38% of its content being local. The figures were however below 40% target percentage set for June 2015. After digital migration process was fully achieved June this year, local content will get wide coverage by new broadcasters rolling out.
According to the government, broadcasters must be well aware what content qualifies for local content. The industry must therefore follow a certain criteria to pass content for local;
- 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