Investigation into the contentious issues in the proposed Kenya media bill
Ngugi, Mwangi L
MetadataShow full item record
This study sought to establish the contentious issues in the proposed Media Bill that has elicited such an intense debate countrywide. The earlier introduction of the process bill by Attorney General Amos Wake undeniably caught journalist's off-guard and caused uproar in the media fraternity. The proponents of the proposed Medium Bill were perceived as threats to press freedom and roundly rejected for aiming to control the media through the enactment of law providing for creation of a commission to look into among other things. journalistic ethics, media licensing and registration of newspaper. In his contribution on the debate around communication sources and media regulator system in 1997 Kenyan Lawyer, Makumi Mwagira said that the basis for new process laid in Kenya would be flawed unless media rights were recognized and anchored into the constitution as a fundamental human rights. He also stressed that the press laws under review should not be enacted within a social, human and cultural vacuum. So far the task force report presented focusing on the Media Bill is still under consideration. Furthermore. the media will be affected deeply by the proposed reform in the Media Bill. which is geared to facilitate oppression and collection and dissemination of information. The current debates and c1amour for substantive constitution reform should interest the media fraternity especially not withstanding all policy or law creation which has been undertaken this far. The question for which this study draws upon its line of inqurity is why the heated debate about the proposed Media Bill and what actually is at stake for those concerned? In particular the study sought to determine the topics of the debate and what observations are to be made on the topic discussed by different parties. The study also sought to determine the changes proposed for the pending proposed new Media Bill so as to outline what issues are contentious from which the current debate derives. While acknowledging the need to standards of journalism. the Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) questioned the press laws and code of ethics for journalists should emanate from the practitioner who will give room for freedom of expression and formulate regulations that will nurture such freedom. His argument is that in modern international legal discourse human rights and especially fundamental human rights are binding on states whether or not such states haw ratified the relevant international Bill of Rights. The study found that the main line of criticism was that the Bill is totally lacking in any home grown commitment to a free and a dynamic press which weighs freedom against responsibility. This at a time where professional experience bears out the fact that discipline is best left to a professional thorough self regulation so that the ends of justice flow from the popular approval and participation of specific profession. The controversy that the notion of responsibility sparks off. however suggests that it does not mean the same thing to everyone doing it. This being the case its imported to point out that its meaning become clearer once a distinction is made between "responsibility" and accountability" Seemingly the way the media Policy and law is being created shows the meandering and how disconnect the process is.