Ruto-Linked Media Houses Giving Raila More Airtime - MCK

William Ruto is facing formidable oppostionfrom Azimio Coalition
Deputy President William Ruto sitting in a past event.

The Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo on Tuesday, July 4, revealed that media houses associated with  Deputy President William Ruto are giving his rival Raila Odinga more airtime.

Speaking during an interview on the Spice FM, Omwoyo revealed that while evaluating media houses for bias in coverage, MCK also looked at the proprietors to establish whether ownership played a roll in the bias.

He added that while the DP complained about unfair coverage, TV and radio stations expected to lean on his side gave him less airtime while those perceived to be pro-government featured him more.

MCK CEO David Omwoyo in 2018

"There were a lot of complains that certain stations do not like him but it was expected that he would have some degree of influence on these outlets. We expected that such stations would favour him only to find out that they do not.

"When you flip the coin, you find others like KBC giving him a lot of coverage more than they did Raila," Omwoyo revealed.

The MCK CEO noted that while assessing media coverage, it would be important to consider other perimeters apart from the quantitative analysis. He stated that a qualitative analysis was done to determine other factors such as tone.

"We started now looking at some aspects such as the tonalities rather than just mentions. We are now getting into what the stories were about and whether they were done in a positive or negative or neutral tone," he explained.

Omwoyo noted that while media houses want to give equal coverage, the editors are at times called to make a decision on what goes out to the public and will have to consider certain factors .

"At any one time, an editor has so much time and have to sieve what is newsworthy. Remember they sit in a position of public trust - they get a hundred stories and are expected to pick the  best 10. They have to implore balance and objectivity," he noted.

A  report released by MCK on June 24 revealed that between April and June, Raila received 41,193.23 minutes on TV compared to Ruto's 20,406.95 while Wajackoya received only 321.11 minutes.

On radio, the Azimio flagbearer received 14,427 minutes while his UDA and Roots Party counterparts each had 9,155.63 minutes and 29.17 minutes of coverage. 

Notably, the majority of vernacular media houses were found culpable of coverage bias, giving more time to leaders from their ethnic community.

A collage of a TV and Radio Studio.
A collage of a TV and Radio Studio.