Govt' Betrayal That Condemned KBC to Slow Death - Ex-CEO

  • Former KBC CEO Waithaka Waihenya has shed light on the struggles going on behind the scenes to rescue the once giant broadcaster from a steady decline.

    In a new book titled Sisyphus' Task: The battle for the Soul of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, the former CEO lay bare the struggle by KBC bosses to keep the broadcaster on the airwaves.

    Waihenya blames KBC woes on its ambiguous position as a government entity charged with public service broadcasting, a role that does not encourage room for profit.

    Kenya Broadcasting Corporation managing director Waithaka Waihenya on October 5, 2016, in Kisauni, Mombasa County addressing land wrangles between the county and KBC.

    He lamented that the statutes governing the broadcasters' operations portray it as a State Corporation of the commercial order, yet its public service mandate hindered it from plunging into such a "commercially minded" newsgathering that attracts audiences and advertisers.

    "It is classified as a national broadcaster yet in the categorisation of state corporations, it is classified as a commercial entity which should make its own money," he writes.

    Waihenya further lamented that every time a minister in the docket of information comes into power, he declares it one of his mandates to bring KBC back to profit means, a matter that is soon lost in the thick of things.

    Waihenya decries that funding to the corporation was episodic and the policy support by the government, sporadic and undependable, leaving the broadcaster to wallow in its own misery most of the time.

    He further adds that when the was the helm, he would see pure disdain from senior individuals in government, including CSs and PSs who questioned the broadcaster's importance in the era of a liberalised media environment.

    Revisiting one case, he states that he approached the relevant authorities to have the broadcaster's installations protected due to the increase in terror threats in the country, but a senior police boss dismissed his concerns.

    "KBC used to be important when it was the only media house in the country, but now we have many media houses, so KBC is not at all special," the senior police officer responded.

    Current KBC CEO Naim Bilal and NACADA CEO Victor Okioma during a cooperative meeting on September 9, 2019.

    When he approached another CS, he narrates how the CS dismissed the national broadcaster's importance.

    "To be honest I do not know why we still have KBC as a national broadcaster. The country does not need it, and the government does not need it either," the CS was quoted.

    Waihenya left KBC in October 2017, after the expiry of his contract, having stayed there for three and a half years, and was replaced by ex-NMG editor Naim Bilal.