The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has come to Citizen TV’s defense after a section of Kenyans launched a scathing attack on the station recently.
The station owned by Royal Media Services (RMS) has been trending on social media for the past two days after bias claims from Deputy President William Ruto’s political camp.
This is following a report aired on Sunday night that the DP’s motorcade was stoned in Naro Moru, Nyeri County, during a church visit in the area.
Ruto’s allies led by Members of Parliament Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) termed the report as malicious further asking their supporters to boycott the station for allegedly running propaganda against the country’s second in command amid rising political temperatures ahead of 2022 polls.
But in a statement issued on Monday night, MCK CEO David Omwoyo condemned MP Barasa’s choice of words noting that the criticism amounts to intimidation and violation of media freedom.
“Our attention has been drawn to a social media post by Kimilili MP, Didmus Barasa, dated 5th September 2021, referring to one media house as `Githeri media’, ‘Gutter Press’ and calling on his supporters to move to another media house.
“The contents of the post by the politician are an affront to media freedom and a clear sign of intimidation by politicians to the media house and journalism at large. Whereas the politician has the fight to disagree with the editorial policies of any media house, it is unacceptable to incite the public against any media house, ” said Omwoyo.
While asking Barasa to withdraw the statement and apologise to the station, the CEO said any politician who attacks the media is a threat to press freedom and MCK will take action by opposing their clearance in the next election.
“While the Council recognises the right of any individual to demand for upholding of ethical standards in journalism, it expects that the same shall be demanded of the politicians and leaders for violating freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information as provided for in the Constitution in articles 33, 34, 35 and the Media Council Act, 2013,” he said.
“Accordingly, politicians cannot on their own accord term the media as unprofessional. Such action amounts to taking the law into their own hands and proceeding to pronounce judgement on an issue they are not made to prosecute.”
He advised politicians and members of the public aggrieved by the ethical standards by journalists and media houses, to file a complaint with the Media Complaints Commission which is legally mandated to handle such matters.
“Referring to Media as `Githeri Media’ or ‘Gutter Press’ without empirical evidence is a total violation of media practice and standards and we demand for retraction of the statement and an apology issued,” he added.
.@MediaCouncilK cautions politicians and leaders against violating freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information as provided for in the Constitution and the Media Council Act, 2013. pic.twitter.com/9Nfzl5C60F
— Media Council of Kenya (@MediaCouncilK) September 6, 2021