Deputy President William Ruto is set to shake-up the local media landscape after he allegedly acquired majority shares in Mediamax, a group holding company that runs K24 tv, Kameme FM, Milele FM, People Daily Newspaper and a host of other radio stations.
Mediamax was untill recently owned by the Kenyatta family and is ranked 4th biggest in Kenya after Nation Media Group, Standard Group and RoyaL Media Services (Citizen/Inooro TV and Tens of radio stations). The move is seen by many as prep for 2022 campaigns where propaganda will be key. By acquiring Mt Kenya audience dominated media the DP will effectively decide what to feed to the region as news.
In the race to outdo both Royal Media services owned by SK Macharia and Standard group owned by Moi family DP Ruto is also alleged to have acquired Xtra Publishing Ltd the company that pioneered Kenya’s evening newspaper XNews.
XNews was a free circulation evening newspaper that used to be circulated in Nairobi by Xtra Publishing Ltd.
However, the owner of the firm Paul Marshall, has since sold his stake in the company to DP Ruto according to those conversant with the new developments.
The company now plans to start publishing a daily newspaper that will be circulated free in all the 47 counties. The pagnation of the then 16 page newspaper is set to be increased to 42.
Ruto is said to have decided to invest in his own media company as part of his strategy to consolidate his presidential ambitions ahead of the 2022 General Election.
“Piloting of the project is set to start in seven counties that include Nakuru, Mombasa, Nyeri, Kisumu, Kajiado and Uasi Gishu from June 29 to July 2, 2018 and the newspaper will hit the streets countrywide from July 7, 2018,” those involved in the project told Daily Reporter.
The company has started recruiting senior management editorial staff that will include Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, News Editor and other section editors.
Names of veteran journalists said to be targeted to join the new newspaper include Tim Wanyoyi a former Managing Editor of Saturday Nation, Catherine Gicheru, former Editor The Star newspaper, Eric Shimoli former Daily Nation News Editor, his counterparts Bernard Namunane and Njeri Rugene and a host of other journalists who lost their jobs from different media houses through retrenchment and downsizing.
The new media company is set to kick-off a major recruitment programme that will see it target top reporters in leading media companies who are going to be given super-salaries.
The new media company is also planning to launch a TV station and a former Citizen TV journalist, Mr Kisia Wasilwa, is set to head the TV project. The company also plans to launch a series of radio stations.
Mr Ruto had experimented with a cable TV called Express TV before he abandoned the project and bought shares in the Kenyatta family owned Media Max Ltd that publishes free circulation newspaper People Daily, owns K24 TV and numerous radio stations.
It is not clear whether Mr Ruto has sold his stake in Media Max Ltd that he had recently increased to more than 40 percent.
The DP has been having frosty relations with President Uhuru Kenyatta since the Head of State accepted to work with opposition leader Raila Odinga following their handshake on the lawns of Harambee House.
“The company has already bought a building at Crescent Road near State House where its headquarters will be placed that is undergoing renovation and plans are underway to buy a state-of-the-art printing press,” our source said.
Vehicles to distribute the newspaper in different parts of the country have already been bought and are being branded by a local motor vehicle dealer.
XNews was printed by Standard Media Group before it ceased publication around August 2017.
Source- Daily Reporter and others