CS Matiang’i fails to attend key meet with House bosses on digital TV row

The Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communication Fred Matiang’i skipped a crucial meeting with the bosses of the National Assembly with an excuse that he had already met MPs and explained to them the controversial decision to switch off four TV stations.

Mr Matiang’i was scheduled to present a paper on ‘Embracing the media and keeping pace with technology: The status of digital migration”, but he cancelled the date with the chairpersons of all committees and top party leaders within the National Assembly. Speaker Justin Muturi told the parliamentary retreat at the Serena Beach Hotel in Mombasa that the Cabinet Secretary said he had met the House Committee on Energy and Communication, and that he had also spoken to the Senate just this week.

“The Cabinet Secretary asked us to excuse him…. After consultation, it was felt that his appearance today might compromise in some way the reports that are being prepared in both Houses. Because there’s a problem which I wouldn’t want to veer into!” said the Speaker, alluding to the shutting down of Citizen TV, KTN, NTV and QTV.

It was expected that the CS would lead his team to help give the House bosses clarity on why the government has refused to give the owners of the four TV stations an extension.

The media owners have asked Parliament – both the Senate and the National Assembly—to weigh in and tell the government to return all the equipment that was confiscated when the Communication Authority of Kenya raided the transmission stations.

The media owners Standard Group Limited (owners of KTN), the Nation Media Group (owners of NTV and QTV) and Royal Media Services (owners of Citizen TV) want until the end of May to bring in their digital broadcast equipment.