The History of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

Transmission by Radio started in Kenya in 1927 with advent of the East African Broadcasting Corporation (EABC) which relayed BBC news to the colonies. English Radio Broadcasting begun in 1928. The Broadcasts targeted white settlers who monitored news from their home and other parts of the world.

In September 1931, another agreement was made between the Government and the Imperial and International Communication Ltd which was to take over the responsibility of broadcasting for a term of 25 years. Later the Imperial and International Communication became Cable and Wireless Ltd.

First radio broadcasts targeting Africans came during the World War II to inform parents and relatives of African soldiers what was happening at the war front. English broadcasts continued until the beginning of the war when Asian and African programmes were introduced.

In 1953, the first broadcast service was created for Africans. African Broadcasting Services (ABS) carried programmes in Swahili, Dholuo, Kikuyu, Kinandi, Kiluhya, Kikamba and Arabic.

In 1954 a commission was set up by the colonial government to look into the future of broadcasting in Kenya. As a result of the recommendations of that commission, Kenya Broadcasting Services (KBS) was established in 1959 and regional stations were set up in Mombasa (Sauti ya Mvita), Nyeri (Mount Kenya Station) and Kisumu Station in Nyanza (at the time comprising the current Western Province and Kericho Districts.)

By 1960, it became evident, that independence was inevitable. The colonial government having used radio to suppress the nationalist movement did not want this important mass media organ to pass on to the African government on attainment of independence. This led to the formation of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) to take over from the government controlled Kenya Broadcasting Services.

In 1962, Television service was introduced in Kenya. The first transmitting station was set on a farmhouse in Limuru and transmitted a radius of 15 miles.

In 1964, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation was nationalized into Voice of Kenya through an Act of parliament.

In 1970 a new television station was opened in Mombasa to relay programmes and produce local dramas, music cultural and other programmes touching on coastal issues.

In 1989, the Voice of Kenya reverted back to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation through an Act of Parliament. The same year KBC signed a contract with Japan Telecommunication Engineering Consultancy Service (JTEC) for improvement and expansion of the national medium wave frequency radio broadcasting network.

In 1991, another contract was signed between KBC and Marubeni Corporation of Tokyo Japan for upgrading of medium wave transmitting stations and construction of new ones.

In 1993, KBC embarked on a major modernization project to upgrade its transmitting stations, construct new ones and improve on switching and rooting network.

In 1996, Metro FM was commissioned as a 90% 24 hours entertainment radio channel. However in 2006 it was transformed to a full time reggae channel.

In September 2000, KBC commissioned Metro Television as a sports and entertainment channel. December same year Coro FM was launched to transmit in Kikuyu language to Nairobi and Mount Kenya Region.

In 2001, Pwani FM was started to carter for the coast region.

In 2009 the government licensed KBC to spearhead the migration from analogue to digital. Later same year, President Mwai Kibaki opened the DVB-T centre at Broadcasting House.

In 2011 KBC in an effort to modernize and reach more audience commissioned several FM channels namely;