The government will remain steadfast in its commitment to grow and sustain the media industry by strengthening the existing Broadcasting and Telecommunications institutional framework and increasing the quality of content production through the active involvement of all stakeholders.
Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Esther Koimett lauded the vital role media played in informing, educating and entertaining the society which she attributed to a robust legislation around access to information and media freedom.
“Our Constitution has created an enabling environment that has granted Kenyans and the media the right to information especially on matters of national interest. Further, the Kenyan media landscape is currently undergoing significant changes, both in terms of structural arrangements and professionalism occasioned by the expanding digital space and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ms Koimett.
She said the media industry in Kenya, just like in other developing countries faces certain challenges in their day-to-day work.
“Issues such as lack of office space and appropriate tools have affected production of high-quality content by various media organisations,” she noted.
On Covid-19 pandemic impact on the media industry, the PS said many journalists had been laid off due to decreased income while others were operating under harsh conditions including without appropriate equipment, safety gears and conducive working space.
“Moreover, the closure of offices of several media houses have forced many journalists to operate from cyber cafes, hotels and even social places thus exposing them to many risks, and in turn hampering their performance,” added the PS.
She said the Ministry was committed to supporting the Media Diversity Fund as a way of enabling the industry to cope with the current financial and professional constraints.
“With nearly 200 radio stations, 85 television stations, 100 print publications and 200 online media outlets, the media industry in Kenya is a big contributor to the national economy and employer, and thus should be accorded necessary support,” she noted
She assured Kenyan journalists of her Ministry’s support and commended the Media council for supporting journalists which had motivated them to excel in their performance.
On his part the Media Council Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Omwoyo reiterated the importance of authentic, reliable and accurate information especially during this electioneering period in order to set an agenda of peace, cohesion and inclusivity during and after the elections.
Mr Omwoyo noted the idea of opening the Eldoret media hub was as a result of closure of several media houses in Eldoret. Currently there are only three media houses that have offices out of over 70 journalists based in the town. Over half of the journalists have no operational base.
“Today we are launching the Eldoret media hub. One of the challenges we face across the country is that Journalists working in the regions sometimes don’t have a safe working environment. After coming from duty, you need a place to sit, do research and write your stories in a conducive environment,” stressed Omwoyo.
He thanked Uasin Gishu County government for pledging support to the local media saying soon they are going to sign an MOU with the devolved unit to equip the centre and get the hub expanded so that Journalists there could get a good place to work from.
“The hub will be majorly a training centre for aspiring journalists from the colleges and Universities to come and sit alongside the experienced journalist so that they can learn tricks of the trade and excel in their careers,” he noted
Speaking at the event Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said Eldoret media hub was the first in the country and will help in disseminating accurate information and counter fake news.
“This is a milestone as the hub is going to bring some sanity to the media industry. The trained professionals will steer this country forward in the right direction,” said Chemno.
Head of Government Advertising Agency Gwaro Ogaro, called on the media to be very objective and help filter all information that is undesirable to the public adding a conducive environment was key in protecting journalists from harassment and ensuring security of their contents.
“Refuse to carry alongside your reporting hate speech. Media should be used in informing the citizens on positive issues that will build this nation and not take us back to an ugly history of our past during elections,” he advised.
The Media hub hosts a recording studio, a newspaper area and other journalistic tools of trade. The centre will also serve the neighbouring counties of Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet.
By Hassan Adan Ali