February 19, 2018

Businessman SK Macharia sues Government over media shutdown

Royal Media Services (RMS) Chairman SK Macharia has sued the Government over the media shutdown on January 30.

Mr Macharia wants the State to pay compensation and get a court order barring interference with the company’s broadcast sites.

It is estimated that the three switched off stations; KTN News, NTV, Citizen TV and Radio have lost close to Sh30 million in advertising revenues per day.

The stations were closed following their ‘defiance’ to follow an alleged order from President Uhuru Kenyatta restricting the live coverage of the controversial swearing-in ceremony of Raila Odinga as the ‘People’s President’.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i maintained that the switch-off of the media houses would remain in place until investigations into NASA’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) activities had been concluded.

“Media owners and all relevant actors had been given a full security situation brief well ahead of the illegal activities of NASA. Unfortunately, some media houses chose to disregard this advice, their own code of ethics, self- regulations and moral responsibility to every Kenyan to safeguard security of their fellow citizens,” The CS stated at Harambee House.

The former Education CS further noted that coverage by the media would have led to incitement and a ‘massacre of catastrophic proportions’ was going to happen.

“The Government’s responsibility is to protect the lives of people. We are committed to the rule of law,” Matiang’i said.

The High Court, however, on Thursday suspended the Government’s directive to shut down the three leading TV stations in the country pending a full hearing of the case that was filed by Activist Okiya Omtatah on Thursday.

Judge Chacha Mwita ordered the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to restore live transmission for the stations.

He also barred the State from interfering with the signals of the various TV stations.

Earlier, Activist Omtatah had filed a petition seeking to overturn the Government’s directive that led to switching off.

He argued that the Government’s order was in utter violation of Article 33 and 34 of the Constitution, which guarantee media freedom and access to information.

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