Sunday, February 3, 2013

Whats all the noise about CCK shutting Royal Media Services Transmitters?

A lot of noise is currently being made on the blog sphere and elsewhere about CCK shutting down six broadcast transmitters belonging to Royal Media Services (RMS), and the fact that the owner is being targeted for supporting one of the main political parties in Kenya namely the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) .

However,it is important to understand that CCK “is the municipal government body responsible for the implementation of the international obligations that the Republic of Kenya has to the International Telecommunication Union (“the ITU”), a specialized UN agency in the field of information and communication technology and to which Kenya is a member.”

CCK is also the regulatory authority for the communications sector in Kenya with responsibilities in telecommunications, broadcasting, electronic transactions, and postal services. It is charged with the responsibility of managing the country’s numbering and frequency spectrum resources.

It is in my opinion that CCK has taken the right direction and should not be cowed by all the noise whatsoever. The law must be enforced regardless of the timing. An illegality is an illegality. Kindly let us not politicize the matter. Enforcement of this judgment does not in any way relate to SK supporting CORD. This should be seen as a pure enforcement of a broadcast requirement. 

Broadcast licences have conditions and CCK does warn against their breaching.  For example CCK is usually clear on power of transmitter, the radius of broadcast, the equipment that is approved etc. If for example you go beyond that radius, or use a more powerful transmitter and therefore interfere with other stations' signals, you breach the law and CCK has to come in. Further, in this case, RMS was given sufficient time to put in corrective measures. 

This court case between RMS and CCK has been going on for a while. Please read:

Just to highlight a few things:  
CCK issued a public notice on May 17, 2012 where it warned of  "UNAUTHORISED USE OF BROADCAST FREQUENCIES"   in the Daily Nation, and reminded "the licensed frequency users that all radio frequency transmitters must be operated under a valid licence whose conditions must be adhered to. In accordance with the Kenya Information and Communications Act, Cap 411A, operation of radio services without a licence is an offence that attracts a fine of Kshs.5 million and imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both"

Those operating illegal licences were given a 30 day notice to surrender the frequencies, failure to which CCK warned that it would take action. Several radio stations among them Neutral Digital Broadcasters Limited, Trans World Radio – Kenya, Real-Time Solutions Limited, Imani Radio & TV Ministries, Capital FM and other stations duly complied with the direction and informed CCK that they had installed band filters to minimise harmful interference. 

CCK wrote to RMS a “Notice of Violation” letter dated 3rd August 2012, where several non conformities were noted. CCK was concerned that that despite having asked RMS to correct the anomalies, no action had been taken. CCK further asked RMS to take corrective measures within 30 days from the date of the letter to ensure that it installs "the band pass filters, obtain Type Approval for its transmitters, shut down unauthorised stations and relocate to the designated broadcast sites". RMS on different dates received more letters from CCK on unauthorized use frequencies. 

Needless to say, RMS did not comply and instead went to court (it enjoined the AG and the Minister of Information) arguing that it was entitled to continued use of the frequencies since the body envisaged by Article 34 (5) of Kenya's 2010 Constitution for licensing and issuing broadcaster’s frequencies was yet to be established. Further, RMS argued that the letters and Notice issued by CCK contravened/violated its fundamental rights and freedoms under Articles 34, 40, 47 and 48 of Kenya's Constitution and requested the court. Additionally, RMS wanted (14) (g) A permanent injunction restraining the 2nd (Minister) and 3rd (CCK) respondents or any of them from cancelling, stopping, suspending, restricting or in any way whatsoever interfering with the petitioner’s licences frequencies, broadcasting spectrums and broadcasting services.

The courts (Justice Majanja) already re-emphasized the regulatory role of CCK in issuance of licences and frequencies on 18th January 2013. 

This is the summary of the ruling.

Conclusion and disposition
62.  In summary, I find and hold that the CCK is entitled to exercise regulatory authority over broadcasting and other electronic media pursuant to the Kenya Information and Communications Act until such time as Parliament establishes the body contemplated under Article 34(5) of the Constitution. Thus prayers (a), (b) and (c) of the amended petition are dismissed.
63.   I find and hold that the letters dated 6th March 2012, 3rd August 2012, the Notice of Violation dated 3rd August 2012 and the notice issued in the Daily Nation of 17th May 2012 are not in contravention of the petitioners rights protected by Articles 34, 40 and 47 of the Constitution as they are in the nature of notices that afford RMS to show cause why regulatory action should not be taken against it. As a consequence, I reject prayers (d), and (e) of the amended petition.
64.  The grant of prayers (f) and (g) of the amended petition would have the effect of excluding RMS from statutory regulations. As I have held, I do not think regulatory action, which entitles the RMS to due process is a violation of the Constitution nor does such action interfere with its fundamental rights and freedoms of the petitioner.
65.   In view of the findings I have made, the petition is dismissed. As this is a matter for the enforcement of fundamental rights and freedoms I decline to make an award for costs.
66.   I thank counsel who appeared in this matter for their detailed submissions.
DATED and DELIVERED at NAIROBI this 18th day of January 2013.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hello 2013!

My friend Loan Khong from Vietnam has asked me to tell her in 400 words what are my wishes either for my country Kenya, or at a personal level for 2013.

So this is in a way my message to her.

My wish for my country Kenya in East Africa is that we hold a Peaceful election. This is the first time that the country will be holding an unprecedented election under a new Constitution which was promulgated in August 2010.  The elections will take place in March 2013. Kenyans will vote on six positions which is an increase from the previous three. This will be a challenge to ordinary citizens who are yet to understand the new positions. This means that campaigns are hot at the moment and citizens continue to be polarized along ethnic lines. Party politics seems to thrive along ethnicity.

My desire therefore is to see a peaceful election, with no bloodshed as was witnessed in the last General election of 2007 and most important that Kenyans will accept the leaders who will be elected regardless of their tribe(s). I wish to see Kenyan remain as one peaceful country.

I also wish to continue living in a secure country. 2012 experienced deadly clashes which are politically motivated and left many dead, others injured and many others displaced from their homes.  Other forms of insecurity included terrorism attacks and carjacking. It is my desire that 2013 brings in stability and security.

Further, fire and road accidents claimed many lives. The road accidents were as a result of careless driving and corruption of traffic police officers who accept bribes from public transport vehicles that flout traffic rules. Kenya amended its traffic rules that became effective on December 1, 2012. Safety on our roads and rogue drivers and corrupt policemen becoming a thing of the past is something I will be looking forward to in 2013.

And ofcourse I want to see Kenya continue leading in technological innovations, as well as provide leadership in engineering technology that is adaptable by the rest of the World.

At a personal level, I look forward to experiencing peace, love and shared respect of all persons regardless of who they are. I wish to continue knowing God more and in a personal way, build healthy relationships with family, relatives and friends, to be in robust health, to prosper and excel in whatever that I will get to do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Technology, Economic and Societal Opportunities and Women

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Government of Kenya and the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) BASIS initiative (Business Action to Support the Information Society) organised a workshop Technology, Economic and Societal Opportunities and Womenduring the just ended IGF in Baku.
The focus was on existing Internet-related economic, cultural, political and social opportunities for women, and the gaps that exist. I participated as a lead discussant and I must say that participants enjoyed a stimulating debate which raised a couple of issues and made several recommendations. I will just highlight some of the issues.

Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva of DG CONNECT pointed out that In order to reap the full benefits of modern technology; women need digital rights and cultural participation. There is still low participation of girls in science subjects and ICTs. Therefore investment in infrastructure must go together with digital skills for women.

Alice Munyua representing the government of Kenya observed that Cyber violence is prevalent and affects women differently. She called on ISPs to come up with a focus on women in their user policies and recommended a multistakeholder response, with policies not only from government, but also from business and the technical community in the provision of services and development of contracts
Yara Salam spoke about online campaigns on human rights defenders in Egypt. She pointed out that women are afraid to socialize in public spaces in Egypt less their pictures are taken and posted on face book in particular if they are drinking or breastfeeding. How can such women protect themselves online? She raised the question of how important is localization of issues so that cultural limitations can be dealt with? Should there be more support from authorities for online human rights defenders?
Theresa Swinehart of ICC pointed out that there are many women emerging in internet governance leadership. However work still needs to be done so that conversations are created to inspire more women. “Business must invest in infrastructure in a responsible way so that women are involved”. She emphasized the importance of the free flow of information, and discussed the factors that limit online participation by women, including literacy and influence in government.
Grace Githaiga from KICTANet gave examples of Kenya’s constitutional provision meant to empower women but which are proving a challenge on how to implement for example in job opportunities where women do not apply, or in electoral positions where they do not present their candidature. Women’s issues are still considered a soft issue by legislators, and a formula for implementation of the third gender rule is needed. She emphasized the importance of online services that are relevant and resonate with women's daily lives and aspirations.
P. Usha Ranid from India reported that they are using mobile based technology for improving agricultural practices and in health where they monitor their babies’ weights and record on charts.
A participant was concerned that we may be hurting women’s interests when we group them broadly considering that experiences are different between the developed and the developing countries. She wondered whether service providers have different terms of use by women user and whether there is need for programs that are in accordance with religious norms.
George Nyabuga of Afrinic felt that technology is never neutral and that culture and social norms are a hindrance to women embracing technology. “The kinds of effects we get arise from modality of use and unless there is a serious cultural change, technology will not change the way things are done”. He highlighted the way in which online abuse reflects offline marginalization, and the importance of culture shifts offline in order to improve women's empowerment both online and offline. Therefore “we must engage in ways that will impact cultural change of how we conduct business and therefore technology”.
Lilian Naluoga from Uganda talked of the need to profile role models and on women who have made it against all odds in their work on ICTs. “We need role models to inspire girls to study science subjects and ICTs”.
Some of the recommendations that emerged from the session were that there is need for sustained multistakeholder dialogue on strategies for women's leadership and active participation on Internet-related activities and empowerment.
Further, programmes and recommended solutions to address issues of access and empowerment for women and girls must take into account multiple dimensions – economic, political as well as importantly, social and cultural issues.  And most important is that the session on women and IG must be institutionalized so that it takes place in all IGFs.
In thanking the participants, Ayesha Hassan of ICC, pointed out that the session on women and IG started in Nairobi, Kenya in 2011, and as a result, women issues have come up in 2012 IGF on the Access and Diversity sessions. “This meeting therefore is a building block” she concluded.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kenyan Hospitals

Ministers Charity Ngilu and Anyang Nyongo have one thing in common. In their CVs, is that one is a former and the other is a current minister for health in the Kenya Govt. Yet, they both do not trust the Kenyan hospitals. What should ordinary citizens make of this?

Friday, August 20, 2010

whats on your mind?

I want to find out whats happening around the World. Time to catch up with my favourite newspapers ie Daily Nation, The Washington Post, New York Times etc. Really enjoying this break.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Media Ethnography: theory and practice

I have been attending a seminar on media ethonography: theory and practice at Pappersbruket, Osby in Southern Sweden. The course was designed to introduce PhD students to the theory and practice of media ethnography. It explored how media ethonography applies to both media production and media reception, and how it is fundamentally both a theory and a method for investigating everyday practices and lived experiences as tehy are shared by culturally-specific ways of being-in the world.

The venue was nice, the food great, and new friendships from different Univeristies from created. Nice now to know Jacob (Arhus), Nana (Arhus), Rose (Dar es salam),  Bram (Utrecht), Meltem (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University), Johanna (Orebro), Florencia (Karlstad), Rikke (Uni of Copenhagen), Siri (Martin Luther Uni), Helena (Westminister), Maja (Uni of Southern Denmark) and Maria Ines (Universidae Nova de Lisboa (Portugal).  Thanks to the Professors Thomas Tufte (Roskilde) John Postil (Sheffield), Debra Spitulnik (Emory Uni, USA), and Jo Tachi (Queensland, Australia).