By Gordon Opiyo
Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, chako tia maji
I’m not a mhenga, but I always interprate this as meaning “never imagine that you will ever benefit from injustice…. If you see injustice somewhere, remember that you you may be next”
Painful things are going on in the media. I do several things, but my true passion is in the media. I have been involved in several things. I have been involved in creating several newspapers, I have been involved in several TV stations, I have been involved in setting up several FM stations…. All across Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda and DRC.
But what is going on in the Kenyan media scene is perhaps the most painful human induced death of a once vibrant industry.
I read somewhere that mediamax(K24, PD, Radio Milele etc) is forcing all staff to take up to 50% pay cut. This is after Standard Group (KTN, Radio Maisha,, etc) decided to cut salaries by 20%.
Of course, they are all using Corona as the scapegoat.
The happenings in media is a big lesson. Never support injustice, thinking that you are immune to it.
Let me explain.
In 2013, as the Digital Migration was being planned, one very evil and greedy person who had influence in the ICT Ministry cooked up a plan. He realized that eating from the ICT Ministry was very difficult because media houses used to go directly to the advertisers.
So, for example, Health TV would go directly to Kenyatta University School of Health… Negotiate a media partnership, and then sign it. This kind of arrangement made the media industry grow very fast in Kenya. Innovation, vibrancy and robust.. Were words that described Kenyan media. It was a multi billion industry. Figures around 2013 were in the tune of 120 billion, most of it from Government, Safaricom and Airtel . Every Government Department created a budget for media activity.
Then one very evil and greedy person from the Ministry in 2013 started wondering “How can 120 billion pass right under my nose and I get nothing?” The evil genius decided to bring a policy of “putting all Government Advertising under one basket” as the corrupt government officials do, they pretend that it is “public interest” kumbe ni corruption wana tafuta.
In short, the Government Advertising Agency GAA was formed. And that was the beginning of the end of media industry in Kenya.
However, GAA started by treating the older media houses well. They were given billions, and us in newer media houses denied even one Bob. Many of us were forced to cancel contracts we had with several State Agencies after every single advert was diverted to the GAA. Some of us had to relocate to Uganda. Many closed shop.
After chasing away the newer media houses, the GAA turned against the older ones.. And these are the results.
Had the older media houses shouted earlier in 2014, when the evil and greedy person was setting up the GAA, maybe the evil organization may not have taken root. But they remained silent, because they were eating well.
Soon, you may not be seeing your favorite TV stations on air. They will all close down and start airing music or BBC and Aljazeera all the day. Your newspaper will shut down, and you will be forced to rely on unregulated sources of information. Imagine Robert Alai, Itumbi and the bully paradise of KOT will be your source of news….
In other words, the idea of one person who had influence in the ICT Ministry in 2013 to set up the evil GAA, has killed an entire Media Industry that employed tens of thousands, and impacted millions.
So, if you see Citizen TV apologizing to Magufuli 7 times a day for 7 days. When you see KTN News shutting down, when you see k24 and Milele FM of kina Jalas forcing staff to take 50%paycut…. Know that the owners failed to follow the advise of the Wahenga “Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, chako tia maji”
Lesson :Never celebrate evil being perpetuated, once they are done with the victims they will turn to you .