Local media house, Royal Media Services (RMS) which owns Citizen TV and other TV and radio stations has embarked on a process of discarding local productions which have lived past their sell-by date.
According to sources within the leading media house, local productions which have been running longer than they should have been will be retired or left to run on the Viusasa platform.
Some of the productions which are going to be affected are the likes of Inspekta Mwala, Papa Shirandula, Mother-In-Law, Machachari among others. Already Machachari has been replaced by Johari since the previous cast outgrew the production and became adults while the audience thinks that there is no creativity in the continuing run.
A well-placed source within the Royal Media production department intimated to us that the cast and crew never became creative and treated every assignment as a regular 9 to 5 job and not a serious moment which demanded their creative dedication.
With some programs like Papa Shirandula running for 12 years, it was not looking well for the station since the cast and the crew never became dedicated.
Mother-in-law actress Elizabeth Wanjiru. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]The source explained, “We have been woken from the slumber by the currently connected audience which has been giving us instant feedback online.
You never hear the Papa Shirandula and the like trending on Twitter or Facebook because the audience became disconnected from it and the crew and cast never engaged or re-imagined and reinvented themselves.”
While Citizen TV considers the local productions part of their core identity which they can’t be separated from, the management is moving most of them from 7:30 PM to 6:30 PM, right before the Swahili news.
Papa Shirandula will be replaced by a daily show called Maria as the process of retiring it continues.
Some of the cast and crew of the age-old Royal Media productions have protested the move and blamed it on “a new cartel which is determined to invest more on editorials and not on local entertainment productions.”
The said cartel is headed by Joe Ageyo, Linus Kaikai, Yvonne Okwara and Jamilla Mohammed who were all poached from KTN and NTV to deliver a revamped news experience at Royal Media.
The revamp is said to have seen more investment in the news while entertainment and documentaries have suffered as the production budget has been cut.
An episode of Papa Shirandula used to cost Royal Media Ksh 600,000 per episode while now the replacement is going to cost between Ksh 200,000 and Ksh 250,000.
While Royal Media has stayed mum over the issue, it’s clear that the fight between new and old ideas is fierce in the traditional media houses. The media houses which together with advertising agencies operate like cartels have continued to maintain a stranglehold on content and audiences despite the rapid rollout of fixed and mobile broadband.
While Viusasa has grown, it’s uptake is still disappointing with audiences still staying on traditional TV platforms. The consumption of YouTube, Showmax, Viusasa and the like have been disappointing locally even where platforms like Netflix have gained a sizable crowd of eyeballs.
In Kenya, advertising agencies like ScanGroup controls over 75 per cent of the market and dictates which media platforms they will share the advertising spoils with, sometimes even going against the demands of their clients. This cartel-like grip forced even President Uhuru’s MediaMax to beg for adverts when they relaunched the People Daily, Milele FM and K24 TV. With Uhuru being the President and the government is the major advertiser in the country, he pushed through a policy which saw the launch of Government Advertising Agency (GAA) which now distributes most (not all) government adverts.
The launch and channeling of government adverts through GAA saw annual advert spend drop from Ksh 7 billion to just over Ksh 2.3 billion despite the exposure levels not being reduced.