Ministry of ICT State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications, Principal Secretary Mrs. Esther Koimett has lauded the media for the role it plays in complementing government measures aimed at stemming the spread of the COVID-19 scourge.
Koimett acknowledged that for over a year now, the media, particularly television and radio, has educated citizens on emerging issues on the pandemic, while fostering discussions on issues of public interest, and made it possible for the country to wade through the Coronavirus uncharted waters.
“Beyond sensitizing the public on this crisis, broadcasters were on the frontline of delivering education content to our children when schools were closed countrywide in an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic. This is something we do not take for granted,” the PS said.
Koimett further noted that just like all other sectors of the economy, the broadcasting industry has not been immune to the devastating effects of the pandemic, and added that a host of challenges ranging from loss of lives, job cuts, competition from digital platforms and diminishing advertising revenues have adversely impacted the sector.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need to have a candid conversation on resilience of the broadcasting sector,” said the PS while officiating the 4TH KUZA Broadcasting Awards ceremony held in Nairobi.
She appreciated the fact that a majority of broadcasters are making every effort to adhere to these standards as enforced by the sector regulator.
“But we are also aware, as demonstrated in the recent past, that some industry players still have a long way to go in terms offering programming that is suitable for children and that promotes good social values,” said the PS.
She commended the Communications Authority, the sponsors of KUZA Awards, for cracking the whip on broadcasters that have been found in breach of programming standards, particularly those meant to promote welfare of children.
“These measures must never be interpreted as an affront to media freedom, but rather, as continued efforts to engender a culture of responsive and responsible broadcasting services in the country,” she said.
The PS challenged all relevant stakeholders to play their role in ensuring clean and appropriate content at all times.
“The responsibility of having clean content on our airwaves is not the work of the Government alone. We must work together to foster that environment. Where there are concerns, our doors remain open for continued engagement,” she asserted.
Koimett further revealed that the ministry is in the process of finalizing the review of guidelines in key areas like Children’s Programming, Local Content and Niche Programming so as to seal any existing gaps and bring clarity in the broadcasting content standards.
She observed that the National Film Policy will ensure the establishment of a national Film Fund that will cater for financial and tax credits, rebates and other incentives for the film industry.
The Policy also seeks to enhance and encourage public private partnerships in film development and urged the industry players to strive for continued improvement in the quality of our programmes, in generating content that resonates with our immediate realities, and a media that is free and independent.
The Communication Authority of Kenya launched the 2021 KUZA Broadcasting Awards, in March , to recognize and fete broadcasters who demonstrate excellence in their broadcasts in line with the ICT law provisions.
The theme of the 2021 Awards was “Preserving our Heritage through Broadcasting (Kenya a Heritage of Splendor)”, which seeks to acknowledge broadcasters who: Promote patriotism, Uphold Kenyan culture, beliefs, and values, and those who have made a contribution towards national unity and cohesion.
There were three major award categories in the 4th edition of the KUZA awards. The Regulatory and People’s Choice Awards standing award categories, while the theme awards vary based on the theme of the year. This year the third category will be the Patriotic Award which is in line with the theme.
The jury of the Awards comprised of: The Kenya Film Commission, Media Council of Kenya, Kenya Copyright Board, Nation Commission and Integration Commission and the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK).
Participants were drawn from the local media stations. Citizen TV scooped the People’s Choice TV, while TV47 won on the Compliance Category and Hope TV won on the Copyright Category.
By Alice Gworo