A new study has said the Kenyan state is a major hurdle in the operations of the media, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.

The research reveals that a hostile and inadequate legal, policy and regulatory environment have affected the media.

Oriare, a University of Nairobi  scholar who was one of the
researchers, said: "Some laws on information and media that should be
repealed remain untackled and key policies needed to steer our (media)
roles as agenda setters are neglected by the government and key policy

Speaking during a "Media Kenya Wants' conference in
Nairobi, Oriare argued that time had come to review the oppressive
legal regime.
The African Woman and Child, Media Diversity Centre conducted the research in September, last year.

In 32 findings, the study accuses politicians, civil servants and other government officials of muzzling the media.

attitude towards media and communication, as a necessary evil, is
grudgingly changing as manifested in the drafting of the Information
and Communication Master Plan and the National ICT Policy," the report

The report also raises issues on the draconian laws governing
operations of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) saying it had
remained the same despite the change in governance over the years.

study says unrefined liberation of telecommunications and broadcasting
in 1998 is to blame for the slow and uneven development of media.
also raises a red flag on the proposed Information and Communication
Act, terming it a government move to regulate broadcasting in favour of
some media houses.

The study says media practitioners lack the will
to transform the sector because they have failed to address legal,
policy and regulatory challenges.

The government’s hostility to
media owners and lack of frequencies, the study says, limits investment
in television and hinders liberalisation.

The 48-page report also
points out problems in media, especially in small media houses where
there is often a lack of professionalism.
"Professionalism is high
in large media houses, but poor in small ones which rely on untrained
and less experienced journalists due to financial constraints," says
the report.

Poorly trained or untrained journalists, coupled with
poor work conditions, are vulnerable to unethical practices that
undermine gains made by professionals and the code of conduct for
journalists, the report says.

The study also found that weak professional associations were the cause for decline in media operations.

Advertisers, the study says, use their financial muscle to influence editorial independence.

its recommendations, the study suggests strengthening of advocacy and
lobby for media friendly laws with an effective and efficient regulator
to promote national cohesion.

It calls for strengthening of
professional training and capacity building for practitioners to make
journalists equipped and ready to give priority to the national agenda
as well set the pace and agenda.