MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL: A COMMUNICATOR’S REFLECTION OF CROSS-OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA IN KENYA
SUSAN MURUGI MUNYI
JOMO KENYATTA UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY
A PAPER PRESENTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR A DEGREE IN MASTERS OF SCIENCE IN MASS COMMUNICATION
DATE: 20TH JULY 2013
ABSTRACT Media ownership trends and control patterns have been changing world over mainly due to economic and technological advancements. This paper shall give an overview of ownership and control of the media by considering the ownership and control patterns and models that exist. Further the paper shall dig deep into the theoretical perspectives of ownership and control patterns by considering the authoritarian/totalitarian, libertarian and the social responsibility theories of media ownership. Specifically, ownership and control trends of the Kenyan media shall be analyzed, paying more attention to cross ownership of media and the implications of this form of ownership to media industry and society in general. The main concern is that with the rapid increase of cross media ownership, where certain media houses run newspapers, television stations and radio stations, the credibility and neutrality of the Kenyan media is questionable. This is mainly because in such a case, the information, news and general output of television and radio stations are merely a summary of what was contained in the newspaper. The argument brought forward in this paper is that the Kenyan media though pluralistic in number of media outlets, is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals due to cross ownership. There is thus lack of plurality of ownership and as a result lack of plurality of ideas, opinions and voices resulting from domination by few. To add to this, the major owners are players in other sectors and therefore these media serve to serve and promote their other interests. Therefore, the recommendation at the end of it all is that regulation restricting concentration of ownership and cross media ownership be brought to play so as to promote plurality of ideas.
INTRODUCTION Media ownership and control are major issues in media policy in the field of communication which cannot be overlooked in understanding how media works. The ownership patterns of media have changed world over due to general economic growth. Before the 20th century, many media were owned and controlled by the state. This however changed with the turn of the century bringing with it a rise of numerous newspapers. Oosthuizen (2001) puts it that as early as the turn of the century, German press theorists were already dealing with the concentration of ownership that was developing in the German economy and the implication of these media ownership patterns. This trend followed in most western nations where strong economic groups and conglomerates got into media ownership leading to concentration of ownership of the media where few individuals or groups gained control of the media. For example, according to Oosthuizen (2001) the mid 20th century saw the consolidation of media ownership in the U.S.A due to economic pressure and mounting competition which led to formation of media chains. Many other nations including Britain and other European nations took up the trend in the late sixties and as Oosthuizen (2001) puts it, these trends and developments informed other countries world over in as far as ownership and control of media is concerned. It is as a result of this that cross ownership and foreign ownership of local media is in the increase. In most countries, the media is a capitalistic operation that is mainly dominated and controlled by private parties whose major drive is maximization of profit. Ownership of such media lies in the hands of a few individuals or groups. As Lorimer &...
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