Council of Governors Halts Advertising With Nation Media Group

  • Nation Centre Building in Nairobi CBD
    Nation Centre Building in Nairobi CBD captured on Monday, October 21, 2019.
    Simon Kiragu
  • The Council of Governors (CoG) has blacklisted Nation Media Group from its list of advertising partners following a story it claimed was malicious. 

    The story the Daily Nation published on September 8, titled Eight Governors on Graft Hit List had reported that a number of governors had been wanted for corruption. This did not go well with the CoG. 

    "Therefore in the meeting it was resolved that henceforth, no county government shall advertise with the Nation Media Group merchandise until the situation is rectified. 

    The cover story by Daily Nation of September 8, 2020
    The cover story by Daily Nation of September 8, 2020

    "I therefore urge all county governments to immediately cease engaging with NMG merchandise and advise the county officers about this until further notice," said the statement signed by CoG Chair Wycliffe Oparanya. 

    Despite some governors being taken to court over corruption, the CoG also warned that other media houses would be blacklisted for carrying such "sensational" stories.

    The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has slammed governors and accused the CoG of intimidation and curtailing media freedoms.

    "The CoG cannot of its own accord term the media as unprofessional. Such action amounts to taking the law into their own hands and proceeding to pronounce judgement on an issue it is not made to prosecute. 

    "The correct action would be for the CoG to lodge its complaint to the Media Complaints Commission to determine the matter guided by the ethical code of journalism appended to the media law in Kenya," MCK CEO David Omwoyo wrote in a press release.

    He added that MCK would hold governors responsible for any attacks, intimidation, harassment and interference with the work of journalists in their respective jurisdictions. 

    This is not the first time media houses have been threatened with sanctions by the government.

    In 2018, mainstream media houses were taken off air for planning to cover the mock swearing-in ceremony of ODM leader Raila Odinga.

    Its is estimated that 30% of newspaper revenue comes from government advertising by publishing tender notices, land rates waivers, functions and other important notices.

    In 2018, NMG announced that shareholders would only get a dividend payout of Ksh1.50 per share following reduced reveune attributed to outstanding government debt.

    The company revealed that the Government Advertising Agency (GAA) owed it Ksh856 million in unpaid advertisement revenue.

    ICT CS Joe Mucheru downplayed the government's advertising significance in 2019, claiming that government was at liberty to use other forms of communication.

    Mucheru argued that in the Ksh100 billion industry, the government accounts for only below 5% advertising business and not as significant as the media players make it look.

    “This industry is driven by advertising and the media houses should realise that the government’s aim is to communicate to its people and not to necessarily advertise. We have many forms [that] we can communicate through,” asserted the CS.

    The creation of the GAA under the Ministry of ICT streamlined all of the government's advertising efforts and budgets. 

    Information and Communication Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru during a past event
    Information and Communication Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru during a past event
    Daily Nation
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