TAMING GAMBLING

Films board seeks DCI action on non-compliant broadcasters

Kenya Films Classification Board compiling list of broadcasters breaching rules on time for airing betting ads.

In Summary
  • MPs are conducting an audit of all unlicensed and licensed betting companies engaged in broadcast media gaming activities.
  • Acting KFCB CEO Christopher Wambua told the National Assembly ICT committee on Tuesday that the board targets 11 broadcasters.
"MPs are conducting an audit of all unlicensed and licensed betting companies engaged in broadcast media gaming activities."
"MPs are conducting an audit of all unlicensed and licensed betting companies engaged in broadcast media gaming activities."
Image: FILE

Broadcasters violating timing rules for airing betting programmes may soon land in trouble with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

The Kenya Film Classification Board says it is drawing a list of non-compliant radio and television stations in its second-quarterly report for this year.

Acting KFCB chief executive Christopher Wambua told the National Assembly ICT committee on Tuesday that the board targets 11 broadcasters that air watershed content – of which betting ads are part, during prime time.

He did not name the broadcasters under its radar but promised to furnish the committee chaired by Marakwet West MP William Kisang with the details by close of business Tuesday.

“We are compiling the list for the second quarter to hand over to the DCI. We shall be forwarding the list to the Communications Authority of Kenya as well,” Wambua said.

“We believe that if we go this way, there will be some change in terms of ending this carelessness of airing watershed content during the day,” the acting CEO said.

He lamented that the board was handicapped in terms of enforcement of the rules, hence the involvement of the other state agencies.

“We are continuously monitoring to see firms that are breaching the law and will be updating the list with the enforcement agencies from time to time,” the regulator said.

Wambua asked MPs to consider changing the law to "give the board teeth" to act on breaches to the content classification law, which he said was common with betting firms.

“We give other agencies our report since we don’t give broadcasters licenses…even the role of classifying broadcast content is donated,” he lamented.

“We can’t say we are totally helpless as we have strengthened our interagency collaboration…CA issues licenses hence can withdraw the same,” Wambua said.

He added that they have issued letters to broadcasters to ensure compliance with age limits set for every programme, adding that betting is considered adult content which should air in the night.

“Any content that has an adult theme is classified as above 18 years. Gaming in its nature targets adults and should be classified as above 18,” the official said.

MPs are conducting an open inquiry into the rampant betting and gambling activities carried by radio and television stations as well as online platforms.

The House team is conducting an audit of all unlicensed and licensed betting companies engaged in broadcast media gaming activities.

MPs seek to “determine the culpability of broadcast media outlets, betting companies, Betting Control and Licensing Board, Communications Authority, Kenya Film Classification Board and telcos in facilitating betting offences.”

MPs also seek to evaluate the socio-economic impact of uncontrolled betting activities on Kenyans, “including associated negative impacts.”

The bid is to mitigate the impact of betting such as depression, suicide, irresponsible borrowing causing many to be listed in Credit Reference Bureaus as well as mental impacts of betting.

The committee further intends to identify licensed operators who are engaged in illegal and fraudulent betting activities.

“The committee seeks to determine the administrative, structural and budgetary gaps in the regulation of betting in Kenya and recommend suitable corrective action,” the committee’s terms of reference read.

MPs are further keen on determining the amount of tax revenue lost by the government with the proliferation of illegal betting activities.

The inquiry aims at reviewing the existing laws and regulations on betting “with the view to proposing new policy and legislative framework to address the problem.”

During the Tuesday meeting, the lawmakers raised concerns that gaming and betting involve use of money hence likely to cause financial and emotional harm to persons engaging in the practice.

Kisang was joined at the meeting by MPs Silvanus Maritim (Ainamoi), Anthony Kiai (Mukurweini) and Godfrey Osotsi (nominated).

Maritim said, “The commission looks helpless since most of the stations are not appearing for classification and appear to be airing outside watershed period.”

“Stations are still broadcasting data that has not been classified…there is dishonesty somewhere…I expected withdrawal and bans…we feel that someone is not playing their role,” he added.

“Betting adverts should be banned totally or restricted to run at night. Is this the way we are going to build our country? The vicious cycle is not going to stop,” Kiai said.

Kisang asked the board to fast-track the drafting of the Film Bill to give it more power to enforce the betting rules.

 

Edited by Henry Makori