Radio Africa challenges watchdog fine

The Radio Africa Group is to challenge the powers of Kenya's media watchdog in court following a decision to suspend a Sh800,000 (£5,950) fine imposed on the group last month.

The fine was levied in response to a protest from the Aids Law Project to the Media Council Complaints Commission following a radio broadcast on popular channel Classic 105. According to Kenyan newspaper The Star, the organisation claimed that an episode of Busted hosted by Ciiku Muiruri violated the code of conduct of media practice by infringing privacy rights. The commission swiftly ruled against the radio station, which, with The Star newspaper, is owned by Radio Africa.

'Illegal and irrational'

Radio Africa’s lawyer, Geoffrey Imende of Mohamed Muigai Advocates, has now convinced High Court judge Mohamed Warsame to suspend the decision, which Radio Africa claims is ‘illegal and irrational’.
The crux of the matter is a contested section of the country’s Media Act. The Media Council implemented section 38 – which applies on conviction in criminal proceedings under the legislation – while Radio Africa contends that section 29 should be used, which provides for penalties of publication of an apology, correction, issuance of a reprimand and dismissal of a complaint.
Radio Africa maintains that the commission has no jurisdiction over criminal offenses covered by section 38, and even if it had, it did not put the company on notice.

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