Times TV Stations Had Dramatic Clashes With Govt

  • Journalists docked at a media center while covering an event.
    Journalists docked at a media centre while covering an event.
  • Media freedom in Kenya has been a hot-button issue with instances where the independence of the members of the fourth estate has been put in question.

    Over the years, the media and the government have had clashes that have resulted in the stations going off air.

    A majority of the shutdowns were brought about by the media houses going against the government's agenda.

    1. Citizen TV, KTN and NTV switched off for airing Raila's Swearing-in.

    Citizen TV studios

    In 2018, the media came under attack from the government during the mock swearing-in of ODM leader Raila Odinga. 

    As Citizen TV, NTV and KTN streamed the proceedings at Uhuru Park, their transmitters were shut down. 

    “Officials from the Communication Authority accompanied by police officers went to our transmission station in Limuru, and they disabled our transmission,” Citizen TV MD Wachira Waruru said at the time. 

    It was after nearly a week that the government restored the media houses’ transmission. 

    2. Mount Kenya TV ordered to stay off for four weeks.

    Mount Kenya TV had its frequency shut down for four weeks after airing inappropriate content on a children's program in April 2021. 

    The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) directed the station to go off air from midday Wednesday, April 28 for a minimum period of four weeks. 

    Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) headquarters.
    Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) headquarters.
    Daily Nation

    Further, CAK imposed a fine of Ksh500,000 noting that the station had compliance issues that had been raised for over 120 days. The authority advocated for all compliance issues to be resolved within 30 days. 

    The station would only be allowed to go back on air after it has complied with all compliance issues.

    3. During digital migration. 

    In 2015, KTN, Citizen and NTV switched off their digital signals in a dispute over the move from analog to digital transmission.

    The three private stations had wanted more time for the move but the government refused, prompting the TV station to say off the air for three weeks.

    The analog signals for the three networks were turned off on the orders of the government.

    In protest, the stations switched off their digital broadcasts, claiming that the government move discriminated against them.

    During the period the stations stayed off-air, K24 TV saw its audience figures grow by 173%.

    4. Citizen TV when it aired a different function from the late President Moi. 

    Citizen TV had its frequency closed in the year 2000, just a month after its initial launch in 1999 after a fall out between the owner SK Macharia and the late President Daniel Moi. 

    The station aired a new year's Eve party for the owner of Kunste Hotel in Nakuru as Moi hosted a party at State House, Nakuru which aired on KBC. 

    The president got wind of the party from his advisers who claimed that SK Macharia had set up another state House. Moi ordered the station closed.

    Radio Citizen was later reopened but Citizen TV station remained closed until 2006 when it was relaunched and has since become the leading channel in Kenya.

    Royal Media Services Chairman SK Macharia.
    Royal Media Services Chairman SK Macharia

    5. CAK shutting down six Royal Media Services Broadcast transmitters

    In 2013, the CAK  shut down six broadcast transmitters in four different sites that were being operated using unauthorized frequencies and without the required licenses in blatant breach of the law. 

    The six transmitter stations that have were put off-air were located in Narok, Nakuru, Mukuyuni (in Ukambani), and Mabrui (Malindi), and were being operated by the Royal Media Services.

    The commission had earlier issued a notice for the media station to pull them down, giving notice of a further 11 illegal stations being targetted.

    6. Meru county officials raid Baite TV offices

     In 2020, Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza and her husband who run Baite FM, were roughed up by county askaris over unpaid land rates.

    The county officials ordered the station shut as they sought to recover the money owed to the administration.

    At the same time, Meru Revenue County boss John Ntoiti issued a seven-day ultimatum for Baite TV station to clear the tax arrears or have their license revoked.

    In her defense, Kawira stated that the tax evasion claims were the governor's efforts to fight her bid for his post.

    child illegal fight tax evasion