Media classified as essential service in emergency plan

Mutahi Kagwe
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe at a media briefing on the coronavirus on Sunday. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO 

Licensed broadcasters and media houses have been put on the list of entities and individuals offering critical and essential services, giving to during the permission to operate during the partial curfew announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta from Friday.

Those classified as essential services under the State’s enhanced national response to the Covid-19 pandemic include medical and health professionals, fire brigade and other emergency response services, national security, administration officers, public health and sanitation officers, Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC, telecoms operators and service providers, supermarkets and banks.

Media owners had earlier appealed to the government to classify their operations as essential during the crisis.

In a letter sent to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and copied to his ICT counterpart, Joe Mucheru, the media owners argue this will enable them to continue their vital role of informing Kenyans seamlessly on the outbreak.

“In view of the ongoing government efforts against the pandemic, it is anticipated that if the situation turns from bad to worse, lockdown measures may be instituted as a last resort,” said Media Owners Association (MOA) chairman Waruru Wachira.


“In this circumstance, we wish to request the government to categorise all media services as essential services. This will enable us to continue with the critical public interest mandate of providing information and education to the public.”

The association also wants representation on the National Emergency Response Committee and the Business Emergency Response Centre to offer their expertise during the pandemic.

“We further request a representative of MOA to be included as a member of the National Emergency Response Committee and the Business Emergency Response Centre,” said Mr Wachira.

The association is made up of 16 media houses, including the Nation Media Group #ticker:NMG — the largest in Eastern and Central Africa.

MOA said all members would partner with the government in disseminating information to Kenyans during the pandemic on their television, radio and print platforms.

“We take this opportunity to assure you and the government of our continued support and partnership towards efforts to curb the spread of the virus and affirm our public interest mission to provide relevant and timely information and education to the public on the current pandemic,” the association said.

“Our members will continue to be at the forefront of reporting about the pandemic and proactively drive awareness prevention campaigns across all print, broadcasting and digital platforms to influence behaviour change and avert stigma.”

The media owners said they had taken precautionary measures to protect their employees and customers during the pandemic in line with the guidelines issued by the government.