After Parliament passed the Kenya Information and Communication Bill last week, you could hear the cries of pain as far away as in Lagos and Alexandria — in a manner of speaking, that is.
The Bill was slated as the most violent attack on Press freedom in Kenya since independence. The $11,710 for individual journalists, is the highest such fine that a media tribunal anywhere in Africa can impose.
Likewise the $234,192 penalty against a media house that violated several provisions of the new Bill or the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism, is again among the highest a tribunal can hand out in Africa. The law also requires that at least 45 per cent of the broadcast programmes be local.
Let us be honest. The problem with media censorship is not the fact that there is censorship. It is mostly to do with HOW it is done.
Ways the Goverment could have avoided the backlash
1. Only impose fines on repeat offenders. And many journalists would have thought such a provision reasonable.
2. The easiest way to get broadcasters to offer more local content would have been to offer incentives. Require stations to have 25 per cent local content, and for every other 5 per cent they add on, the business gets a 5 per cent tax waiver.
3. Exempt newspapers from VAT
These are just a few of the carrots that will get any government fair coverage. There is nothing harsh media legislation will get for a government that just the right dose of sweetness won’t.