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Why MPs want to give Ezekiel Mutua more powers over TV content

Kenya’s “moral policeman” has received the backing of MPs in his bid to get more powers to monitor visual content.

Members of the Labour and Social Welfare Committee asked the Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua to submit to Parliament the proposed changes to the laws that would give the board more powers.

“We draft Bills and pass them. We’ll engage the others,” said committee chairman and Matungulu MP David Were.

Mr Mutua is leading a drive by KFCB to give it more powers over TV content and material posted online “to rein in the harmful effects of technology”.

MORAL CRISIS

“This country is in a moral crisis,” Mr Mutua told MPs at Continental House, Nairobi.

KFCB counts among its recent successes the banning of movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street  and events like “Project X”  and the deletion of scenes  from movies like Fifty Shades of Grey, a Coca Cola advert as well as the screening of several music videos.

Mr Mutua told the committee that KFCB’s budget should be increased five times.

The board uses Sh338.25 million as recurrent expenditure and Sh50 million for development.

He said overlaps between the Film and Stage Plays Act and other laws have stopped it from taking on beer adverts, stand-up comedies and plays screened on TV.

Among the institutions whose mandates conflict with that of KFCB is the Communications Authority.

PROSECUTORIAL POWERS

“When we prepare reports, we take them to the CA. We don’t have prosecutorial powers. We take reports to other agencies, which sometimes issue contradicting statements,” he said.

Mr Mutua, who was accompanied by KFCB chairman Jackson Kosgei and other board members, said the board’s mandate should also extend to the regulation of wedding shows, now popular on TV.

“We need to do classification from an African context; what is the minimum between liberal extremes and the conservative,” said Bishop Kosgei.

An official from the ICT ministry said the proposals must be scrutinised first before being published.

The MPs disagreed, saying the proposed law would be caught up in the government red tape and asked for a draft to be submitted before the planned retreat with the film board.