Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The problem with the bill

The bill empowers the Minister, in the interest of public security or tranquility, to unilaterally determine and by order in writing to direct –

“(a) Any officer duly authorized in that behalf to take temporary possession of any telecommunication apparatus or any radio communication station or apparatus within Kenya, and – (b) In the case of a radio communication, that any communication or class of communication shall or shall not be emitted from any radio communication station or apparatus taken under this section; or

(c) In the case of telecommunication, that any communication within Kenya from any person or class of persons relating to any particular object shall be intercepted and disclosed to such person as may be specified in the order; or

(d) In the case of postal services, that any postal articles or class or description of postal articles in the course of transmission by post within Kenya shall be intercepted or detained or shall be delivered to any officer mentioned in the order or shall be disposed in such manner as the Minister may direct; or (e) In the case of broadcasting and any broadcasting apparatus or any radio, television, cable or satellite broadcasting or signal distribution or apparatus within Kenya-

(i) That no broadcasting shall be broadcast from any radio communication station or apparatus taken under this section; or (ii) That any signal within Kenya from any person or class of persons relating to any specified subject shall be intercepted and disclosed to such person as may be specified in the order.

The media and the KCA bill fiasco

Media or press freedom is considered one of the fundamental tenets of democracy. Any government that wants to label itself as a dictatorship needs to do one thing: gag the press or show attempts of muzzling the media.

The media will make sure that the debate gathers international momentum. That every official government function that the president, vice president or the prime minister attends, there will be a question about press freedom.

Forget the fact that the media is also misleading, the bill is being referred to as the media bill, ICT bill among other titles that it has been given. Whatever the bill it is, no one seems to care much.

By the way, there is the media council bill (formerly the media bill) which is pending in parliament and the freedom of information bill, which is seeking to repeal the official secrets act.

That is why it seems that the current confrontation between the media and the government is only round one, there is more to come. One thing is clear; in this case, the government will not win.

If you doubt it, sample this; the activists/ protestors were released a few hours after arrest and I guess if it was any other protestor, they would have spent a night in jail.

But the ultimate protest by the media will be a whole day black out. A whole day without radio, TV or newspaper; it will be an odd day.

But again, the media is driven by capitalist interests and that dark day would mean immense loses for the media.

So, lets wait and see.........