REMARKS BY MRS. MERCY WANJAU, ACTING DIRECTOR GENERAL,COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY OF KENYA DURING THE 4TH KUZA AWARDS BREAKFAST LAUNCH

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It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning as we unveil the fourth edition of the
Communications Authority of Kenya’s annual KUZA Awards that recognize and fete
broadcasters who demonstrate excellence in their broadcasts in line with the regulatory
requirements.
This is also the day that we formally kick off the People’s Choice SMS voting platform in
which your audiences have a say on their preferred broadcaster.
As you know, this would have been our fifth edition of the awards since 2017 but last
year, we had to push forward the awards following the outbreak of the COVID-19
pandemic, which still festers on, a year later.
The Authority instead utilized the budget that had been earmarked for the event to
support local content initiatives in the broadcast media industry that was adversely
impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in line with the Authority’s mandate to facilitate
and encourage the development of Kenyan Programmes. This initiative is being executed
in partnership with the Kenya Film Commission.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Broadcasting remains a powerful medium for influencing culture and that’s why is
desirable that it should reflect the national values, culture, aspirations, hopes and dreams
of Kenyans and promote national unity and cohesion.
Radio and TV play a significant role in portraying and influencing the culture of a nation
and it is therefore essential that our differences and diversity are celebrated and
showcased as something to be proud of.
The Authority recognises the vital role of media in preserving our cultural heritage for
current and future generations. In this regard, the Authority has prescribed a minimum of
40% local content quota to ensure that broadcasting services contribute to Kenya’s social
and cultural perspectives including promoting the use of vernacular language in
broadcasting.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The theme of the 2021 Kuza Awards is “Preserving our Cultural Heritage Through
Broadcasting – Kenya a Heritage of Splendour”. Through this theme, the Authority and
indeed the industry will acknowledge broadcasters who promote patriotism, uphold
Kenyan culture, beliefs and values as well as those who have made a contribution
towards national unity and cohesion.
Towards this end, the Authority has introduced three new award categories this year.
The first one is the Patriotic Award category, to celebrate all broadcasters who have
demonstrated patriotism and made a positive impact in disseminating information and
implementing the Authority and Government’s directives on the raging COVID-19
pandemic.
The Upcoming Broadcaster Award, on the other hand will celebrate new broadcasters
that have, through their programing, displayed compliance and adherence to regulatory
requirements within the last three years. And thirdly the Copyright Award is meant to
enhance broadcasters’ compliance with copyright and Intellectual Property regulatory
requirements.
As we introduce the Copyright Award category in this years awards, we wish to remind
broadcasters that they are required to adhere to all copyright obligations as provided for
in their licence conditions and ensure adherence to any other laws as they carry out their
services.
This obligation includes negotiating and agreeing on legal contracts with copyright
licensing bodies or authorized legal vendors before broadcasting or distributing
copyrighted material.
It is important to point out that broadcasters who do not meet their copyright obligations
in accordance with the license conditions will not be issued with an annual compliance
certificate starting this financial year.
I wish to note here that without the annual compliance certificate, it will be increasingly
difficult to do business with Government entities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Like the previous awards, the 2021 Kuza Awards will continue to promote consumer
feedback and audience participation in recognizing broadcasters who have demonstrated
excellence in their broadcasts. Through the People’s Choice Awards, audiences will have
an opportunity to participate and vote for their preferred station via the toll free mobile
SMS survey short code 15601.
Let me at this juncture also raise an emerging concern regarding a number of our
licensees who are quickly converting themselves into betting houses without regard to the
provisions of the applicable laws.
As you may be aware, activities related to gamming, betting and lotteries can only be
conducted in Kenya with express authorisation and in adherence with the guidance given
by the sector regulator, the Betting Control and Licensing Board. In this regard, we have
invited BCLB to this forum to sensitize licensees on the legal and other requirements for
airing of betting and lottery content. We expect licensees to strictly adhere to the
direction that the BCLB will provide shortly.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, I wish to commend you for your resilience during the COVID-19
pandemic, which has adversely impacted all sectors in the economy, including
broadcasting. The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined broadcasting as an essential
service that should be accessible to all.
Thanks to your support, research has showed that 95 per cent of the Kenyan population
now has a high awareness about the pandemic.
At the same time, we expect similar diligence in coverage of other issues of national
importance including the forthcoming elections to ensure Kenyans have accurate
information that can enable them make informed decisions.
It is generally agreed that as agenda setters for the society, the media has the power to
unite or polarize a country, depending on how they cover matters of public interests. As
such, we expect that discussions on controversial or contentious issues of public interest
provide diverse points of view, and are presented as objectively and as fairly as possible.
I therefore encourage the media to continue shaping positive perceptions on how the
Kenyan narrative is portrayed during these challenging times. Broadcasters should also
leverage the combined synergies of the industry and audiences towards the growth of a
vibrant, competitive and resilient broadcasting industry in Kenya.
With those remarks, it is now my pleasure to formally unveil the 2021 Kuza Awards that
will culminate in in the Awards Gala scheduled for May 2021.
I also formally declare the People’s Choice Awards SMS Voting platform officially open.
Send the word KUZA to 15601 to begin voting. This service is free of charge.
I wish all the broadcasters the best in this year’s edition of the Kuza Awards.
I thank you for your attention.