Kenya’s media industry faces renewed financial hurdles with the government’s recent directive shifting all public advertisement printing and distribution exclusively to the Star Newspaper.
Issued by the Ministry of ICT, Innovations and Youth Affairs, the directive sidelines major publications like Daily Nation, The Standard, and The People Daily, which previously benefitted from government ad revenue through MyGov.
Under the two-year contract, the Star Newspaper will monopolize printing and distribution of MyGov, previously shared among four newspapers. This decision, according to Principal Secretary Edward Kisiangani, aims to enhance the Star’s online and broadcasting presence through Convergence media.
The Treasury’s 2015 circular centralized public sector advertising via the Government Advertising Agency (GAA). Subsequently, a presidential office circular in 2017 designated MyGov as the official medium for public sector print ads and government agenda propagation.
The contracts with the four dailies lapsed in December, prompting the ministry to tender a new, resulting in the Star Newspaper’s victory. However, the move exacerbates financial strains on media houses, already burdened by mounting unpaid bills from the government, totaling KSh873.11 million as of June 2021.
This development compounds the industry’s woes, characterized by delayed staff salaries and widespread layoffs, as evidenced by Nation Media Group’s recent profit warning. Angela Namwakira, the company secretary, attributed the decline to soaring fuel prices, currency depreciation, and escalating operational costs.
As media houses grapple with these challenges, navigating a hostile business environment, the repercussions reverberate throughout the industry, underscoring the urgent need for sustainable solutions to safeguard media freedom and viability.