Kenya’s Media Council has referred a complaint by the Ministry of Information and Communication against two December 2008 broadcasts by the Kenya Television Network (KTN) to its complaints commission for action, writes Dennis Itumbi.

Media Council chairman Wachira Waruru wrote to the ministry on January 2, informing the Government of the action.
The complaint arose from news features broadcast by the station titled "The Kibaki Coup" and "The Grand Scheme", which the ministry said were not only in bad taste, but could also fuel communal and political animosity. KTN is privately owned by former President Daniel Arap Moi and his former private secretary Joshua Kulei.

The commission, which is chaired by lawyer Ken Nyaundi, says it cannot begin its deliberations unless the government fills the form required by law.

"We have met immediately after the issue was referred to us, and realized that the law does not allow us to proceed to analyze the matter since the complainant (the government) has yet to fill in the mandatory Form 1,” Nyaundi said in a separate statement dated 8th January 2009.

If the government fills in the form and hands it to the Media Council’s Complaints Commission, a date will then be set  for a hearing.

The complaint is a major test of the ability of the Kenyan media to regulate itself.  The media council is established by statute, but the majority of its members are from the media.