Cofek to sue government for banning adverts in media
Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has threatened to sue the government if it does not rescind on its directives to deny media houses its advertisements.
Cofek Secretary General, Stephen Mutoro said Cofek may proceed to sue the government in the event that the said directive is not withdrawn.
In a memo to all government departments, Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua directed that all government advertisements will only be published on its own publication, My.Gov publication.
The directive has attracted criticism from various organizations in the country.
Mr Mutoro in a press statement to the Media on Wednesday accused the government of making the decision without involving the public.
“There has been no sufficient public consultation on this matter of great public interest considering the role of the media. The Ministry of ICT is terribly wrong to seem to wish away the mandatory public participation on the said mater,” said Mr Mutoro.
According to Cofek, if the government’s major interest on withdrawal of media adverts is to save costs, it should concentrate on fighting corruption using a vibrant, free and independent media.
Mr Mutoro said, starving media houses of government ads amounts to a severe threat to the economy, democracy and the constitution.
“Loss of jobs is unavoidable. Media houses shall run the risk of potentially compromising their editorial content at best and shut down at the worst,” he said.
The secretary general said, it is the quality, believability and trust of editorial content which drives Kenyan consumers to the local mainstream thereby accessing government ads.
Mr Mutoro further said various legal statutes explicitly require notification of public interest issues such as public notices, job advertisements, tenders and other such information to be run in “at least newspapers of national circulation”.
“Government will, therefore, be in breach of the said statutes and Article 10 of the constitution on national values such as public participation,” he said.
Cofek argues that as a result public interest stories especially those on graft will disappear to the detriment of government accountability and transparency.
Mr Mutoro said, despite the directive, negative perception of government publications and media outlets being used as propaganda tools will continue to persist.
“There is need for more clarity on the capacity and sustainability of the institutional framework within which My.Gov shall be run,” he said.