Industry

Group seeks to halt CA bid to ban broadcasters

ca

The Communications Authority of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi. PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA) says the shutdown of the radio and television stations is likely to affect the general public right to receive information.
  • In the petition, the group says the notice by the CA is unconstitutional for being issued without due regard to the applicable constitutional principles that underlie the freedom of the media.

A non-government organisation has moved to court to challenge the intention of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to revoke broadcast licences of 128 broadcasters for failure to comply with the regulatory requirements.

The African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA) says the shutdown of the radio and television stations is likely to affect the general public right to receive information that affects them and shapes their social, political and economic lives.

In the petition, the group says the notice by the CA is unconstitutional for being issued without due regard to the applicable constitutional principles that underlie the freedom of the media.

It also argues that the decision of the CA is likely to infringe Article 35 of the Constitution on the right to receive information and which includes information propagated through the mainstream media.

The petitioner’s advocate Karugu Mbugua wants the case certified urgent and the court issue a temporary order suspending implementation of the CA’s decision. The matter is awaiting directions from the duty judge at the High Court in Milimani.

“We state that such closure and revocation of licenses defeats the tenets of freedom of speech and media, and it is imperative for the Communication Authority to exercise its mandates in a manner that does not curtail such essential rights and freedoms,” said the group’s chairman James Mwangi.

In the disputed notice, CA Director-General Mr Ezra Chiloba indicated that the revocation targets various categories of broadcasters and applicants under the current market structure, who failed to meet the requirements of the law.

The affected broadcasters and applicants were given 30 days to comply, failure to which the assigned FM frequencies will be repossessed and licence offers and pending applications summarily cancelled.

The affected broadcasters and applicants include four holders of broadcasting permits and 18 broadcasters assigned FM radio broadcast frequencies, who have failed to apply for broadcasting licences.

Twenty-four are applicants, assigned FM broadcasting frequencies, who upon application for commercial and community radio broadcasting service, failed to comply with the licensing requirements. In this category, among the affected are 14 dioceses of the Catholic Church.

Also in the list are 60 applicants for radio broadcasting licences, 19 applicants for Commercial Free-to-Air (FTA) Television broadcasting licences and three applicants for the Subscription Broadcasting Service licences.

Some of the notable radio stations in this category include Capital FM, owned by the late businessman Chris Kirubi.

Their applications had been processed up to the licence offer stage, but the applicants failed to comply with the conditions within the licence offer period.

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