Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) has expressed profound concern and disappointment with the exclusion of its top presenter from the 2022 Deputy Presidential Debate.
In a statement, the state broadcaster’s acting Managing Director Samuel Maina termed the move that has elicited mixed reactions as unfortunate and demeaning made worse by the fact that the secretariat never informed the affected media houses.
The Debate Secretariat had earlier settled on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation’s (KBC) political reporter Jacob Kioria and TV47’s Linda Alela for the first debate pitting Roots Party’s Justina Wamae and Agano’s Ruth Mutua.
It however dropped the two presenters without giving valid reasons.
Zubeidah Koome of KTN News and Francis Gachuri of Citizen TV are moderating the first tier of the running mates debate underway at the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) featuring candidates who polled less than 5pc in three recent opinion polls.
“This new development of changing a moderator on the day of the debate is unfortunate. It is a clear indication that the organisers have no confidence in any of KBC’s presenters” Maina said.
He observed that as participants in the debate which is a joint production of all media houses, the development should have been officially communicated.
“Any planned change should have been communicated properly, and valid reasons given to all interested parties since it was already public knowledge, through posters, that a KBC presenter would be part of the team. Finding out the change through different posters is not just embarrassing, but demeaning as well”, he added.
This new development of changing a moderator on the day of the [Deputy Presidential] debate is unfortunate. It is a clear indication that the organisers have no confidence in any of KBC's presenters. – KBC Ag. MD @SamCMaina #DeputyPresidentialDebate2022 pic.twitter.com/u4PbPSEb2T
— KBC Channel1 News (@KBCChannel1) July 19, 2022
Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) which is one of the stakeholders defended the move through its CEO Rosalia Omungo saying that all stations had been given equal roles to play.
”Members and colleagues involved long agreed that the debates assignment is not a media house issue, but one where they come together not to represent their media house but to collaborate for the best possible production,” said Ms Omungo.
Maina said the national broadcaster should not be reduced to playing behind the scene roles.
“KBC is not just good for behind-the-scenes roles, I believe we have very good presenters at KBC and if one of them did not meet the requirements, they could have been replaced with another from the same media house”.
He stated that the debates moderator positions are not a reserve of a few media houses every election year.
“ We appreciate the fact that presenters have different strengths and capacities, and this is why they are paired, to complement each other. Joint production means equal opportunity and equal representation, in all areas. As colleagues, we can do better in these joint productions as one family. We should strive for better” he noted.
The second debate involving candidates who have polled above 5pc will be moderated by Sophia Wanuna of KTN News and James Smart of NTV while panel discussions for both debates will be handled by Trevor Ombija of Citizen TV.