Three Kenyan TV stations still off air

Three major TV  stations were shut down on Tuesday after they protested an order by the  Kenyan government not to air the mock swearing-in ceremony of opposition figure Raila Odinga.

The Communications Authority of Kenya switched off the signals of NTV, owned by Nation Media Group, Citizen TV of Royal Media Services Limited, and  KTN.

According to media reports, this followed a meeting between Kenya Editors Guild and State House during which they were warned against covering the event.  The three stations were switched off after they reportedly refused to heed the warning.

On Wednesday night, three NTV journalists spent the night in the newsrooms after receiving information that they might be arrested.

According to a Citizen TV story, plainclothes officers reportedly camped outside  Nation Centre on Wednesday evening, “to allegedly arrest the three journalists for unclear reasons.”

By Thursday afternoon, the three were stations still off air. The Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i  said the government was investigating the “role of some elements in the media fraternity who participated in the furtherance of an attempt to subvert or overthrow the government”.

However, at about 2 pm, the High Court ordered the government to immediately restore all TV transmissions and barred the government from interfering with all television transmissions until February 14 when the case against the stations will be heard. 

Many spoke out against the actions of the government and called for the reopening of the TV stations. In a stinging editorial, the Daily Nation told the government, “The freedom of the media is not a token privilege that the government of the day can give and take at will.”

More on the shutdown

Rights groups, journalists condemn TV shutdown

Kenya: Media Barred From Opposition Event 

Kenya’s media freedom is ‘largely unfree’, new report shows

‘Alarming’ media crackdown leaves Kenyan broadcasters off air

Kenya media shutdown sparks outrage and concern

Grace Natabaalo

Grace Natabaalo is a programme assistant at the African Centre for Media Excellence.

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