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Kenya drops in press freedom ranking

Freedom of the Press in Kenya has plummeted, a new report has revealed, even as Senators condemned the government’s move to switch off the analogue signals of four TV stations.

Kenya dropped 10 places in the World Press Freedom Index from position 90. It is now in the bottom half of the list at position 100 of the 180 surveyed countries and ranks worse than Uganda (which has improved by 13 places).

The survey by Reporters without Borders shows this is the worst performance by Kenya in terms of press freedom since 2007.

Senators on Wednesday debated the shutdown of NTV, KTN, Citizen TV and QTV, with Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula, Dr Boni Khalwale and Mr James Orengo, terming the government move as unconstitutional.

Mr Wetang’ula accused the government of arrogance when dealing with the matter yet the affected media houses are raising genuine concerns.

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The Communications Authority of Kenya, he said, is being used by the government to frustrate the broadcasters.

“Those mandarins within the Jubilee set up are the ones behind these dirty games,” Mr Wetang’ula said.

Mr G.G. Kariuki faulted CA director-general Francis Wangusi saying he was handling the matter as if he was not Kenyan.

“One must be led by intelligence and understanding and not serving a certain interest. Even to be a sycophant, you need to be an intelligent sycophant,” he said.

Senators Beth Mugo and Naisula Lesuuda defended the State saying it had internationally set deadlines to meet and the broadcasters were aware of the timelines.

“This matter of digital migration has been around for six years now. It is unfortunate that those who have been supporting it over the years have changed positions,” said Senator Mugo.

Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet, URP) said the government should assist in getting the CA agrees with the media owners, on the way forward.