Shock As CCK Shuts Down Six RMS Transmitters, Targets Eleven More

This morning Kenyans are waking up to shocking news that the Communication Commission of Kenya has shut down six transmitters belonging to Royal Media Services, by far the biggest broadcast media house in East Africa, owned by CORD Summit Chairman S.K. Macharia.

Citizen TV has grown to be the number one TV station across Kenya and Eastern Africa with its local mix of programming as well as Nollywood movies and Latin America telenovelas. The RMS group also runs a number of popular vernacular FM stations led by Kiswahili Citizen Radio which has the widest reach of any radio station besides national broadcaster KBC national service.

Apparently the “self-allocated” RMS transmitters have been in operation since 2008 when Mwai Kibaki was installed president following acrimonious elections in 2007, an election which Mr. S.K. Macharia and RMS solidly campaigned for Mwai Kibaki and Party of National Unity. Kibaki is due to hand over government in a few weeks and Raila Odinga is the front runner to succeed him.

It is instructive to note that in December 2012, Mr. Macharia was quoted as openly declaring his support for Raila Odinga to be president of Kenya, and he chairs a group of well connected businessmen and private sector personalities who have worked behind the scene to form the Coalition of Reform and Democracy which Odinga has the presidential ticket and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has the running mate ticket.

The shutting down of the transmitters come hot on the heels of an unprecedented staff migration from Macharia’s RMS to Uhuru Kenyatta’s Meidamax/K24. Last week at least 20 key members of staff resigned from RMS to join K24 in what observers say could easily have crippled most broadcasting houses if not RMS. Most of these staff have been poached on promises of better remuneration.

Clearly, there is a sustained political war going on in the airwaves.

Here is the CCK’s full statement on shutting down of RMS transmitters.

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8 comments on “Shock As CCK Shuts Down Six RMS Transmitters, Targets Eleven More

  1. Royal Media say this matter is still pending in court and they are surprised by CCK’s disregard for that. RMS assert interruption to services is minimal though reports of skirmishes in Narok where locals are demanding return of Radio MAA FM return to airwaves, threatening to block Nairobi-Narok road.

    Tomorrow RMS report to court to seek guidance.

    • Long live the Kenyan judiciary under Willy Mutunga!!!

      CCK stopped from shutting RMS transmitters

      The High Court has restrained the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) from interfering with 18 transmitters through which Royal Media Services broadcasts to various parts of the country.

      Justice David Majanja said the status quo should be preserved but declined to give mandatory orders because CCK was not present in court.

      “I have considered the arguments as material placed before the court and I think the petitioner is entitled to being heard before drastic action is taken against it by the respondent,” Judge Majanja ruled.

      Explaining the rare orders on a Sunday judge Majanja said he had been in chambers writing decisions and was therefore available to hear the matter on short notice.

      The orders were obtained after Senior Counsel Kamau Kuria informed the court that CCK on Sunday shut down 11 broadcasting sites in addition to the six that were shut down on Saturday.

      The regulator had obtained court orders to shut the six sites serving Citizen television viewers in Embu, Taita Taveta, Muranga and Migori as well as radio listeners in Nakuru, Narok, Mukuyuni (Makueni) and Mabrui (Malindi).

      Dr Kuria said the actions of the regulator were jeopardising Royal Media Services business and interfering with the rights of Kenyans to information especially in the run-up to the General Election.

      “An order is hereby issued restraining the Communication Commission of Kenya, its servants, or agents from interfering in any manner whatsoever with the applicants private broadcasting site within the republic of Kenya,” said Justice Majanja.

      This came as the CCK director general Francis Wangusi said S.K Macharia, the owner of Royal Media Services, would be charged in court on Monday morning for using frequencies illegally.

      “We will be moving to court tomorrow (Monday) to charge him with operating on illegal frequencies,” said Mr Wangusi, adding that he had not been served with the orders restraining CCK from interfering with the transmitters.

      Justice Majanja had allowed the handwritten orders to be served by email.

      CCK said some of the transmitters were located in non-designated broadcasting sites thus interfering with critical services including aviation.

      According to the Kenya Communication Amendment Act 2009, using a telecommunication equipment that has not been approved by CCK attracts a penalty of Sh3 million or three years in jail on conviction.

      Mr Wangusi said the illegal transmitters were also interfering with other broadcasters in east Africa and avionic communication thus threatening the safety of Kenya’s airspace.

      More below:

      http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/CCK-stopped-from-shutting-RMS-transmitters/-/539546/1683516/-/wmg1ey/-/index.html

      • Mr Wangusi said the illegal transmitters were also interfering with other broadcasters in east Africa and avionic communication thus threatening the safety of Kenya’s airspace.

        for 10 years, the kenyan airspace has been under threat? really? is that something perhaps we should have been concerned about 10 years back? were all airlines informed about this 10 years back? what mitigating steps did KACA or whoever is concerned with air safety take over the 10 years that air travel was threatened? should someone be suing the government for reckless endangerment?

        sometime i wonder whether people fully understand the ramifications of what they say.

  2. Friends,

    This is part of a carefully planned operation. SK Macharia, declared that he supports Raila Odinga. He is being punished for this. Mr. Macharia was summoned to Muthaiga Golf Club and told that he would be destroyed if he did not toe the line and support Uhuru. He was given 7 days to ‘think about it’.

    Now we are witnessing first hand how the likes of Uhuru operate. Mafia.

    Tens of staff of Royal Media have been paid millions and lured to Kenyatta’s K24. CCK has started to systematically shut down Mr. Macharia’s radio stations.

    Trust me, this has nothing to do with any commercial dispute. It is politics chording to the rapacious Mafia around Uhuru and Kibaki who pull the levers of power. More troubling are reports of business men ( particularly Asian) being harassed into supporting Jubilee on threats that they will loose licenses ( and even citizenship!)

    I think democracy is under threat here.

    • I hope Kenyans are taking note of what an Uhuru presidency would mean to them. This should strengthen their resolve to go to the polling stations and not stay home. The “dark forces” that are hellbent on destroying our country should be stopped. This comes at the heels of Kenya being declared the worst country to be born in, in 2013 yawa. How much more can we take?

      It really sounds like an attempt to control the freedoms of expressions that are so enshrined in our constitution. We have officially reverted back into the Moi era of trying to silence opposition. How is it that ‘crimes’ purported to have been committee in 2008 are just finally now being brought to light with this move from CCK. Has this got something to do with the fact that S.K Macharia has refused to dance to the tune of a certain political class?

      And while at it, why not target all media houses that may be using ‘illegally acquired’ frequencies? Don’t try to use the law selectively whenever it doesn’t suit your interests, or the interests of those who really control the state apparatus. How do you even acquire the frequencies in the first place, I thought CCK has to activate them? I hope something is being done about this. Elections are so close and we need to hear from everyone, everywhere in all parts of the country.

  3. Its really shocking that some of these frequencies are discovered illegal 10 years after Macharia/Royal media started using them.

    Has this got to do with Macharia being in CORD????

    • Sounds like the most brazen attempt yet of a media black-out in preparation for the possible rigging of elections that are less than a month away. How is it that CCK is all of a suddent very concerned about our airspace and National security while the blood baths in the north eastern regions (Turkana, Barragoi massacre) havent been resolved yet. What Kenyans need to be asking themselves is why now?

    • Mzee
      Yes, indeed the political stand of Macharia is to blame. He stated that he supports Raila as a personal stand but decided that his media would be independent. Insiders at CCK indicate that the shutdown was not previously on the cards.

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