Uproar has greeted a demand by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) for public transport vehicles to fork out Sh2,000 in licence fees annually in order to exhibit music videos.
Speaking at Travellers Beach Hotel in Mombasa Thursday, KFCB boss Ezekiel Mutua also said all PSV operators tuning to radio stations should pay the agency a broadcasting fee.
He says all passenger vehicles must immediately obtain the required document before exhibiting any videos.
“Those tuning to radio stations will be held personally responsible because PSVs are not broadcasters. If they want to become broadcasters they should go to the Communications Authority of Kenya and obtain licences,” said Dr Mutua as he displayed a copy of the required document.
"We will consider your vehicle, the screens, the equipment you have mounted as public exhibition and you are therefore required to take responsibility for all the exhibited content to the public."
The licences can be obtained from all regional KFCB offices in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nairobi, Kakamega, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyeri, Embu, Garissa and Isiolo, he said.
PSV owners, however, have rebuked the order saying it is punitive to the industry.
“We will not pay that amount. Matatu owners pay for radio at Music Copyright Sh3,990 yearly. We have insurance which is Sh9,007 per month for 14 seater. We pay Sh2,000 to Mombasa County and during motor vehicle inspection at Miritini we pay Sh10, 080 yearly,” said Matatu Owners Association Coast coordinator Salim Mbarak.
Despite their anger, a countrywide crackdown of vehicles exhibiting content without licences is ongoing at the coast.
Some 43 operators have been arrested and charged in court while 33 vehicles have been impounded.
"No pornographic music"
According to KFCB's licensing requirements, the content aired must be suitable for family viewing or listening, not pornographic, loud or promoting drug use.
Dr Mutua said pornography and playing obscene content in public places is illegal in Kenya and attracts a penalty of Sh200,000 or a jail term of five years.
"If you are operating a PSV and you tune to classic 105 FM, the board will hold you accountable for the conditions and terms of license given to the radio station," he said.
Dr Mutua said the crackdown, which has gotten support from the Ministry of Interior, aims at ensuring suitability of exhibited content in PSV’s to protect children from premature exposure to adult content.
The KFCB boss also urged Kenyans subjected to such content, especially around minors, to call hotline numbers 0711222204, 0202250600, 020 22241804 and 0773753355.
“...We thank Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i for the support. We won’t relent. PSV is not a broadcasting station. If you want to entertain people don’t use blatant display of pornography. This must end,” he added.
He defended the order saying the screening of unrated content in PSVs and exposure of children to obscenity goes against the Films and Stage Plays Act Cap 222, the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 and Children's Act.
According to the Films and Stage Plays Act cap 222, screening of the content in the vehicles is considered as public exhibition, Dr Mutua insisted.