The future and purpose of the stated-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation - KBC is in sharp focus ahead of the swearing-in of William Ruto as the country's fifth president on Tuesday, September 13.
Of great concern is the fact that KBC is the only local station that will have exclusive rights to cover the event alongside a private company (Live Eye) - a move that has sparked a 'cold war' within Kenya's media industry.
The stations will stream the event dubbed “Kenya Presidential Inauguration” from Monday, September 12, in preparation for the event slated to take place on Tuesday, September 13.Kenyan journalists during a press conference in a past eventKBC
Following Ruto's move, local channels including Citizen TV, NTV, KTN, TV47 among others will only depend on a live feed, even though they will crews at the Kasarani Stadium, reactions and talking to men on streets.
The announcement sent the National Broadcaster into a frenzy, and turned to coded proverbs that triggered a heated debate.
“He who digs a grave for his enemy might as well be digging one for himself,” read a post by KBC Digital, that was published on Sunday, September 11.
The private media stations responded by quoting Holy books and ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, subtly sending the message home.
KTN News: Fortune favours the brave
TV47: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone - Pslam 118
NTV: Nothing good ever comes of violence - Martin Luther
In the run-up to the 2022 polls, Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza camp accused the media of being biased. The leaders claimed that their competitor (Azimio leader Raila Odinga) was being given more airtime than William Ruto.
Role and Future of KBC
Speaking in a town hall meeting on July 7 at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, Ruto hinted at overhauling the public broadcaster, domiciled at Harry Thuku road, Nairobi, saying it will reclaim its glory if it runs as a commercial entity.
"It must operate differently, otherwise nobody is going to advertise, we must run KBC as a commercial entity, it must make money, it must run itself we cannot continue to fund KBC from public coffers,” Ruto stated on KTN News.
He further revealed that KBC lost its credibility after it became a mouthpiece of whoever was in government. Ruto instead advised the national broadcaster to remain objective and be balanced in providing news.
“The problem of KBC in the past is that it became a mouthpiece of whoever was in government and it lost credibility, it must keep to being objective, it must keep being balanced, it cannot be a place where they report the President from morning to evening,” Ruto posed.
On the future of KBC, David Omwoyo, the CEO, Media Council of Kenya (MCK) argues that national broadcasters in Europe, America and few in Africa are doing well.
“In Europe and America, national broadcasters are performing really well, including the BBC, VOA and DW. In Africa, we had South African Broadcasting Corporation - SABC, which even had offices in Nairobi,” Omwoyo told Kenyans.co.ke.
According to Omwoyo, the best way to look at the future of KBC would depend on strategies, government policies and media trends
“It's a wait and see depending on strategies. For KBC it's a bag of mixed fortunes depending on government policies and media trends."
For Dr Barack Muluka, a communication consultant, KBC performed its role well, especially during the electioneering period, compared to private broadcasters, adding that the state-funded media house has a stable future.
"KBC took a balanced middle ground approach during the campaigns. Unlike some of the so called private houses that were blatantly biased. Citizen and Nation were particularly outrageous, except for Taifa Leo," stated Dr Muluka.President-elect William Ruto addressing residents during a thanks giving prayer in Njoro, Nakuru on Sunday, September 4Susan Kihikaviolence
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