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.