Kenyan lawmaker, MP John Mbadi, is set to introduce a bill aimed at trimming the power of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). The proposed bill seeks to amend the Kenya Information and Communication Act to significantly curtail the powers of the CA. The move is also intended to transfer authority to an oversight body comprising media representatives.
According to Standard Digital News, the amendments are expected to be placed before the House Legal Department this week for scrutiny. The section that Mbadi has proposed for amendment is Section 46 of the Act, which defines the regulatory powers of CA in relation to broadcast services. The section allows the authority, in consultation with the minister, to make regulations that directly affect media houses.
According to Mbadi: “All regulations, including those touching on switch-offs should be subjected to a body comprising media representatives. CA is currently an arm of government. If the regulator decides to switch off the TV at any time, there is no recourse apart from the courts.”
Mbadi added that: “We need to define clearly the parameters within which such interference can take place… Freedom of the media can only be realised if the media has control over transmission.”
According to Standard Digital News, under the current Act, the authority has massive powers, which include licensing all systems and services in the communication industry. The authority is also tasked with managing the country’s frequency spectrum and numbering resources. It can also revoke broadcast licences of media houses found to have breached regulations. The authority insists that its actions are derived from its constitutional mandate to regulate the industry.
According to the report, Mbadi’s bid to tame the CA comes in the wake of a poisoned relationship between the regulator and media owners over the former’s hard line stance on digital migration.