Kenya: Media Told to Take Bias Complaints Seriously

Nairobi — The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has urged the media to take allegations of bias coverage seriously because they are supposed to remain neutral at all times.

Speaking Tuesday during a Media Summit on Elections organised by MCK and and Katiba Institute, Chief Executive Officer of the Media Council David Omwoyo said that it is should be a matter of concern to the media when their audiences complain about skewed coverage.

“The transparency and the trust in the election process are about access to information and the integrity of that information, it is either that or not,” Omwoyo said.

The MCK boss acknowledged that the council should enrich the media’s capacity to know what questions to ask and who to ask while according all parties equal and balanced coverage.

“Build the capacity of the media and other office holders so that then the people in the media can know who to ask and where to direct those questions,” he said.

Omwoyo was referring to concerns raised by Deputy President William Ruto’s Campaign team on lack of balanced coverage from Nation Media Group newspaper and Royal Media Services (RMS) which owns Citizen Television.

Both stations insist they are not guilty of partisan coverage of presidential campaigns following claims that they are favouring Azimio One Kenya Coalition party presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

While RMS Chairman and founder S.K Macharia publicly supports and campaigns for Odinga, the media station’s editorial management has insisted that that decision has not affected its internal news policies.

Katiba Institute Executive Director Christine Nkonge said that the rule of law can only survive when there is a democratic government where Kenyans can engage freely supported by a free media.

“Rule of law can only survive when we have an open government, when we have respect for laws and human rights, when citizens have ability to engage in the governance of their country through expression, through participation and then when we have a free and supported media,” Nkonge stated.

Gunnar Holm from the Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi, said he is concerned that the youth are not keen on taking part in the elections.

“They need to take responsibility in their hands and see the importance of participation otherwise, we, the old people will decide for you,” Holms told the youth.

Kenya is set to hold a general election on August 9 for the presidential, gubernatorial, parliamentary, Senate, Women Representative and County Assembly Representative.

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