Freedom of Media

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Photo: William Janak Oloo
Photo: William Janak Oloo

Kenyan media is guaranteed the freedom and independence of electronic, print and all other types of media under Article 34 of the Constitution.

Media can freely operate as long they do not engage in propaganda for war; incitement to violence; hate speech; or advocacy of hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm; or is based on any ground of discrimination specified under Article 27 (4) of the Constitution which include, race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.

In order to guarantee media its freedom, the Constitution mandates the state NOT to;

  • Exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium; or
  • Penalize any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.

Additionally, the media is guaranteed the freedom to establish broadcasting and other electronic media. However, this is subject only to licensing procedures that are necessary to regulate the airwaves and other forms of signal distribution; and are independent of control by government, political interests or commercial interests.

Further, all State-owned media is required to be free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcasts or other communications; be impartial, and afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.

Kenya has two key laws that are in place to realize media freedom, the Kenya Information and Communications Act (ext. Link), 1998 and the Media Council Act (ext. Link), 2013 to regulate media and journalists conduct as per their code of conduct. The laws establish two bodies, the Communication Authority and the Media Council respectively. The said two bodies are required to be independent of control by government, political interests or commercial interests. They reflect the interests of all sections of the society, set media standards, and regulate and monitor compliance with those standards.