Radio broadcasting in Kenya started in 1928 with a single channel targeting European settlers and providing news mainly from their countries of origin and other parts of the world.
In 1953, the first radio broadcast service (African Broadcasting Services) was created for Africans, with programmes in Kiswahili, Dholuo, Kikuyu, Kinandi, Kiluhya, Kikamba and Arabic. Regional radio stations were set up in Mombasa (Sauti ya Mvita), Nyeri (Mount Kenya Station) and Kisumu (Lake Station).
In 1959 the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation was established by the British colonial administration with the objective of providing both radio and television broadcasting.
The Corporation was nationalised in June 1964, renamed Voice of Kenya (VoK) and became a department under the ministry of information, broadcasting and tourism (later renamed the ministry of nformation and broadcasting). Its new role, as the government mouthpiece, was to provide information, education and entertainment.
In 1989, the VoK was renamed the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation through the KBC Act, and accorded semi-autonomous status founded on the premise that it would adopt a more commercially oriented stance.
Gradual liberalisation of the airwaves started in late 1989 when the government licensed the privately owned Kenya Television Network (KTN) to broadcast in Nairobi.
In 1995, Capital FM became the first private radio station to be licensed by the government.
From the mid-1990’s, the government fully liberalised the airwaves by issuing broadcasting permits and licences to many private entities. It also authorised foreign radio stations to operate in the country.
Liberalisation of the airwaves has resulted in the transformation of broadcasting services in Kenya, Kenyans also have a wider choice of entertainment and information. As of December 2010, 98 FM radio stations were on air (41 in the capital Nairobi alone). In addition there were 19 TV channels (12 in Nairobi).
Media Act 2007 and the Media bill 2010
The Media Act attempts to regulate the media by establishing a statutory Media Council. Section 2 of the Act defines media as ‘both electronic and print media engaged in any production for circulation to the public’, excluding book publishing,
The films and stage Plays Act 1963
According to this Act no film may be produced in Kenya without approval by a licence office appointed by a government minister
The Kenya broadcasting corporation (Kbc) Act 1989 and the Kenya communications Acts 1998 and 2009
These laws are presently subject to review, with the latter to be replaced by a new piece of legislation published as a bill in 2010.
The mandates of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) as the supposedly public broadcaster is to provide universal access to radio and television for all citizens in the country.
Switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations agency tasked with coordinating global telecommunications and services, has set a deadline of 17 June 2015 for broadcasters in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran to migrate to digital television broadcasting technology, on both the transmission and the reception side. Deadlines for the digitalisation of radio have not yet been determined.
The switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting will expand the potential for a greater convergence of services, with digital terrestrial broadcasting supporting mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data. Digitalisation of television is seen as a means of enhancing the viewer’s experience by enabling better quality viewing through wide-screen, high definition pictures and surround sound, as well as interactive services. It also allows for innovations such as handheld TV broadcasting devices (Digital Video Broadcasting–Handheld, or DVB-H), and will mean greater bandwidth for telecommunication services. It will also allow for the creation of many more television channels through greater spectrum efficiency.
Broadcasting in Kenya has been summarized to include the following