Chiloba Hits Obstacle Over Letter to 6 TV Stations on Protest Coverage

Citizen TV and Chiloba
A photo collage of Citizen TV Studio (Left) and Communication Authority o Kenya Director General Ezra Chiloba (Right).

High Court Judge Hedwig Ongúdi on Friday, March 24, temporarily blocked the Communication Authority of Kenya Director General Ezra Chiloba from censoring six TV stations. 

While ruling on a petition that was filed by Katiba Institute, the Law Society of Kenya and journalist unions, Justice Ong'udi gave greenlight to Citizen TV, NTV, K24, national broadcaster KBC, TV47, and Ebru TV to cover Azimio la Umoja mass actions without fearing a switch-off. 

The temporary restraining order also warned Chiloba against taking any action that would jeopardise the operation of the six TV stations. 

Communications Authority of Keya (CA) Director General Ezra Chiloba,.jpg
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Ezra Chiloba.
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA)

"Upon perusing the application alongside the annexures therein, I find that the application raises an urgent and arguable case. 

"It raises weighty issues that shall be heard and determined on merit at the appropriate stage should the court be appropriately moved," Ong'udi noted. 

Justice Hedwig Ongúdi also ordered the petitioners to serve the Communication Authority of Kenya, and particularly, the Director-General Ezra Chiloba with the new orders. 

The Judge also ordered that a substantive motion be filed and served within 14 days, starting March 24, 2023.

Justice Ong'udi further ruled that the motion shall be disposed of by way of written submissions and directed the applicants to file and serve their submissions within three days.

"The respondents shall file and serve their respective submissions within three days of the date of service of the applicant's submissions," Ong'udi noted. 

On Wednesday, March 22, Chiloba wrote to the management of Citizen TV, NTV, K24, KBC, TV47, and Ebru TV over the broadcast of the anti-government demonstrations.

Chiloba accused the six TV stations of violating the Programming Code during the airing of the Azimio la Umoja mass action on Monday, March 20, 2023. 

According to Chiloba, the coverage was done in a manner that seemed to cause panic, incitement, or threaten peace and cohesion in the country.

However, in a quick rejoinder, Katiba Institute wrote to Chiloba, telling that his threats were unconstitutional and had no place in the law. 

A photo collage of a man hurling a stone during the March 20, 2023 demonstrations and a photoof a man destroying a road signage.
A photo collage of a man hurling a stone allegedly during the March 20, 2023 demonstrations and one of a man destroying a road signage.