• Some media houses may end up harming the practice of journalism in the long run.
• Editors concerned some media houses may be taking advantage of Covid-19 to enforce layoffs and salary cuts
The Kenya Editors Guild has called on the government to offer tax incentives to the media industry to help it stay afloat in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Guild chair Churchill Otieno urged national and county governments to pay up pending bills owed to the media houses to enable them to sustain their operations.
Otieno proposed a waiver of licensing and signal carriage fees to ensure continued diversity in the media.
The guild chair said the media industry has not been spared the global economic depression resulting from the pandemic, forcing some to lay off journalists.
In the last nine months, some 300 journalists have been fired as the media organisations implemented austerity measures to survive.
However, some media houses have been accused of being unfair to journalists and lacking a humane touch while sending them home.
KEG, the professional association for editors in Kenya, said some media houses may end up harming the practice of journalism in the long run.
“Of particular concern are indications that some media houses may be taking advantage of Covid-19 to enforce layoffs and salary cuts,” Otieno said.
Otieno said that laying off workers, in any industry, is not a matter to be treated casually.
“We are also distressed by the unprofessional methods employed by some, such as notifying employees by SMS that they have been retrenched,” he added.
Also present at the press conference in Nairobi were Samuel Maina (vice president), Rosalia Omungo (secretary/CEO), Pamela Sittoni (trustee), Macharia Gaitho (trustee), Ruth Nesoba (member), George Nyabuga (member) and Faith Oneya (member).
“We understand that some of these measures, however painful, are absolutely necessary during a period of drastic declines in revenue.
“Some media houses may have to shut down if they do not find finds ways survive until the pandemic ends and a normal business environment resumes,” he said.
Otieno said retrenchment should involve a humane, caring and participatory process, with supportive measures such as counselling, psychosocial support and preparation for change.
“As the watchdog of society, the media must itself be leading by example in regards to fairness and justice within its ranks,” he urged.
KEG called for an urgent meeting of stakeholders to discuss the state of the media in the Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 period.
“Towards this, KEG and other representative bodies, including the Kenya Union of Journalists, Kenya Correspondents Association, Association of Media Women in Kenya and Media Owners Association, the regulatory body Media Council of Kenya, Communications Authority, the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, Communications, will gather to find joint approaches to problems currently facing the sector,” Otieno said.
(edited by o. owino)