The Government has paid media houses Sh244 million out of the over Sh1.2 billion owed to them while assuring a conducive environment for the fourth estate to conduct its business.
Principal Secretary in the State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications at the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Prof Edward Kisiangani says relevant legislation to facilitate this will be put in place.
The PS at the same time commended the Media Council of Kenya for spearheading efforts to review laws around media operations, with a view to give the country a robust policy to guide media operations.
“The Government recognises the critical place of independent and free media. We will support the media to play its role in contributing to matters of national interest through responsible reporting”, he said at a meeting convened by the Media Council of Kenya to review its Strategic Plan in Kwale.
Prof Kisiangani said the Government will work closely with the media towards pushing service delivery and delivering on its development agenda.
“Countries that have a vibrant media have a vivacious development agenda. It is not in our brief to fight anybody, including the media as media freedom is enshrined in the Constitution. We will work closely with all stakeholders to institute laws that will streamline media operations. The Media Council should be at the forefront in these efforts”, said the PS.
“The Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 of our Constitution gives the media freedom to execute its mandate. However, this should come with utmost responsibility”, he said.
The PS at the same time cautioned media organisations against maltreating their staff, in view of the recent layoffs and pay cuts across media houses.
“Private media owners should not be allowed to threaten existence of the media through unfriendly business practices. Media workers should be protected from rogue businesses”.
He revealed that the Government, through the Government Advertising Agency (GAA), is committed to supporting media viability, adding that it has so far released moneys towards settling pending bills.
“Out of the pending KShs 1.2 billion, we have so far released KShs 244 million to media houses. However, no media house has reported that and most continue subjecting their staff to job cuts. This is unfair and should not be allowed”, he said.
He urged the Media Council to engage media owners towards adopting viable business models and professional reporting. He also implored media organisations to embrace innovative approaches in their operations in view of the digital shift.
The PS asked the Media Council of Kenya to execute its mandate, to ultimately enhance professionalism in the Media.
“As a regulator the Media Council should ensure responsible reporting by the media. The Media Complaints Commission should pick any breaches to the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya and guide the media accordingly”, he said.
The PS advised the media to interrogate the government’s blueprint to report objectively on areas around agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, housing and settlement, healthcare, the digital superhighway, the creative economy and environment and climate change.
“The Government is committed to forge working relationships with the media in order to improve service delivery and quality of life for all Kenyans. Let us engage positively and I urge the media to avoid political inclinations as governments change from time to time. The media should play its watchdog role in a non-partisan manner”, said Prof Kisiangani.