How State House Built Royal Media and Why They Want it Shutdown NOW

Posted In Entertainment - By robertalai On Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 With 10 Comments

Citizen TV Kenya

The case of Royal Media Services (RMS) vs Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is not as complicated as we would want it to look. The recent shutdown of more than 6-booster transmitters in in Nakuru, Narok, Mukuyuni (Makueni) and Mabrui (Malindi) was not a purely regulatory matter as Ndemo would love us to believe.

This is how it started. In 2005, President Kibaki was informed by the intelligence that the Banana (YES) side was going to loose to the Orange (NO) side in the referendum. The ground was tilted in favour of Raila, Kalonzo, Ruto and other opponents of the new constitution. So something needed to be done to greatly turn the tide against Raila and his side.

Kibaki then called a meeting at state house attended by Bitange Ndemo (PS Information), Charles Njoroge (CCK), Mutahi Kagwe (the Minister of Information), John Michuki (Internal Security Minister), Francis Kimemia (internal security), S.K. Macharia (Royal Media Chairman), Michael Gichangi (Intelligence boss) and Francis Muthaura (Civil Service boss) among others. Out of those present, PS Bitange Ndemo has remained the only person outside Mt Kenya Mafia who is very loyal and close to State House (one of the few who know about illegal transfer of Grand Regency to Kibaki’s family).

The meeting reached a decision to award Royal Media Services extra frequencies to cover almost anywhere in country. Royal Media now cover more areas than any broadcaster has ever covered. Basically the group has a foot-print which covers almost every corner of the country. The extra frequencies were allocated at the orders of State House. It was not something to be debated. So after the overnight allocation of frequencies irregularly to RMS and being the astute businessman he is, S.K regularised the acquisitions after few days. He formalised the acquisitions with CCK and made sure that almost all the allocated frequencies were not “illegal”. Only few boosters (transmitters supporting other transmitters) were on frequencies which were not regularised.

Later, S.K. grabbed some frequencies through his connections at State House. This made RMS now control a market of more than 51%. Some of the newly grabbed frequencies with direct assistance of CCK, Ministry of Information and Statehouse were not regularised or CCK advised that they be left in a pending state.

Apart from pushing for the allocation of extra frequencies and allowing Royal Media to grab some, state house also pushed for the allocation of adverts from state corporation to RMS. This ensured that the new broadcaster was well funded.

RMS then embarked on a process of almost exclusively poaching staff from Standard Group which was considered to support the Orange team so much. The media house poached tens of staff members in a go that KTN was almost crippled. Later when they saw that KTN was still on its feet, Michuki personally ordered a raid to finish the broadcaster claiming that they were about to publish something regarding the first family. This was just an excuse.

So that is how RMS expanded so fast and became the dominant media house in the country.

Problem is that S.K. Macharia saw his empire as so big that no one could match it. When he appeared on Forbes list of the African Millionaires to Watch in 2013the whole Media Group celebrated like it was an endorsement from some god.

S.K. toyed with the idea of joining politics but he thought that he might not win much support from opposing tribes considering that Kenyan politics is so tribalised. So he decided to enter in to politics softly using a backdoor.

He decided to support Raila Odinga for president. He declared at a rally in Nyeri that he will use all his resources to support CORD. The Star newspaper wrote, “I will use my media outlets to back Raila – SK Macharia” That headline woke opponents of Raila in Jubilee, Amani and Eagle coalition. The only close competitor to CORD is Jubilee with Uhuru Kenyatta being one of the few leaders from Mount Kenya who is very very close to state house.

So a meeting was called at state house. Present were Francis Kimemia, Uhuru Kenyatta, PS Bitange Ndemo,  CCK Chairman (Ben Gituku), Michael Gichangi and Nick Wanjohi. President Kibaki is also said to have been in the meeting which resolved to contain RMS after the Nyeri declaration.

A plan to fix RMS was mooted and it was to be multi-pronged. Uhuru was to be enabled through state coffers and allocation of advertising spend in enabling Mediamax to poach personnel from Royal Media services. PS Kimemia also ordered that Ndemo should ensure that all frequencies held by RMS “illegally” be immediately taken away from them. Government allocation in adverts and promotions or public information campaigns were ordered scaled down.

So the actualization of the plan started last week and it is going to be hastened. Mediamax has in just the past few days poached more than 32 key staff from Royal media including those in technical and operations department. Mediamax is offering some of the new catches as much as 300% raise in salaries. This is not realistic considering that the group which owns  The People, Meru FM, Milele FM and K24 TV control just 2.2% of the Kenyan media market. The investment might take as long as 3 years to be gained back.

3 days later, CCK has moved in and switched off Royal Media transmitters in areas where CORD is just trying to gain meaningful support. From Monday, RMS will see termination of advertising contracts while the push to close more ethnic stations will be hastened by PS Ndemo.

These actions will be pushed until after the elections. Though RMS might win the legal war through courts, State House functionaries will not honour most of the court decisions as Kibaki has done before without blinking an eye.

Speaking to two former bosses of CCK, they said that they believe that the timing is very wrong even if the intention was to be good.

In fact one said, “timing is everything. If I were still the CCK boss, I would not have done this now. Even for the current CCK boss, he looks like a cheap puppet of politicians by pulling such a move. This is wrong.”


About - Robert is an African Tech Blogger, Critic, Net Evangelist, Speaker, Mentor for Young Boys and Girls, Editor @TechMtaa and likes to Provide Sanitary Towels To Poor Women through the DishAPad Initiative

  • Jamaa Moja

    my oh my!… explosive indeed, sounds convincingly true

  • South C Ward

    The lies in Robert Alai’s propaganda

    1. “He formalised the acquisitions with CCK and made sure that almost all the allocated frequencies were not “illegal”. Only few boosters (transmitters supporting other transmitters) were on frequencies which were not regularised.”

    *This is untrue as no such application was filed by RMS/SK to CCK or any letter from CCK to SK or RMS was ever issued. The “fomralisation” process of getting a licence and frequecny allocation, equipment type approval, location at the designated area and so on is not that simple Bwana Alai. You cheapen the role of blogger in Kenya.

    2. “So that is how RMS expanded so fast and became the dominant media house in the country.”

    *So Kenyans started watching Citizen instead of KTN because a few anchors were poached? and KTN raided? You think Kenyans are so gullible? Kenyans started to watch Citizen TV because of local content! Shows such as Papa Shirandula, soaps, Naija etc…and ofcourse the addicting Gospel Sunday! Again, Alai cheapens the role of bloggers in Kenya! Readers are not dumb.

    3. “When he appeared on Forbes list of the African Millionaires to Watch in 2013, the whole Media Group celebrated like it was an endorsement from some god.”

    *Again, this never happened! Shame!

    4. “I will use my media outlets to back Raila – SK Macharia” happened in January 2013….but CCK started the case against Royal Media through letters sent over many years but the entry of Francis Wangusi, the new Director General in August 2012 is the starting point for the new wave of strong enforcement! So, Bwana Alai, all this happened before your imaginary “state house” meeting promoted by SK’s decision to back Odinga! It is such bloggers who need to be in jail for falsehoods in inflammatory articles!

    5. “the timing is very wrong even if the intention was to be good” is the only bit we agree on even if you may have spoken to Eng. Waweru and Mr. Njoroge who are guarded characters and I totally doubt would give you the light of day for you to quote them in such an article that basically implicates one or both of them in the “state house orders” to CCK!

    Go and do your genuine research and not this piece of misinformation. If you need the facts, figures, documents, signatures and the real story, stop such cheap articles!

    • Amanda

      I totally agree with you, most of what he is saying does not even sound realistic.

  • Muthuri Kinyamu

    How did RMS obtain a court order this afternoon restraining CCK? Do courts sit on Sundays? How was the suit filed,court fees paid,

    Your post seems to paint Macharia as someone who has been helped and built by others. Then why complain when the same people plot his downfall? Karma is a BITCH. Furthermore wewe Alai you are the voice of the voiceless I don’t know who sent you and paid for the placement of this post!

  • John Ooko

    In my new book, –
    – and with all due analytical supposition, I had this entry on Kibaki in Chapter 16:

    Whereas the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, was fully a Europeanized African who knew exactly how to exploit power once he had it, his successor, Toroitich Arap Moi, was simply a village elder who found himself in the throes of political power. The third and current president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, however, in the context of a book written in the twenty-first century highlighting years of European exploitation of Africa and its resources, is an absolute demagogue as a leader! For one who already had two successive failed attempts as a presidential candidate, for one who had no plausible chance of ever making it to that political office in Kenya until he came to be the beneficiary of Raila Odinga’s own machinations in 2002, and for one who had spent over thirty years inside the high offices of Kenya’s government, including being the vice president at one time, Kibaki’s eventual mismanagement of Kenya’s political atmosphere to the point of a near civil war in early 2008 makes one wonder whether he had always held a grudge against his own country!

    In order to have a good grasp of Kenya’s postindependent politics though, we would need to analyze those related events beginning from the year of independence in 1963….

  • Ken Wou’Nyabao

    Can they confirm or deny the occurrence of such meetings in state house and the attendance!

  • Governor van Tarus – China

    Two wrongs cannot make a right. Let the rule of law prevail, RMS should operate within the constitutional legal framework, I don’t understand why opportunistic politicians are making unnecessary noise when its now clear that the RMS has been using illegal frequencies and transmitters in the affected places whether or not the acquisition was politically motivated. Kenya is now under a new constitutional order, the error of impunity is over.

  • Thiong’o

    I wondered how it was possible for anyone to allocate themselves a frequency and came to naught, this is politics, RMS was a beneficiary of politics, that said, is it not more sensible for the CCK to demand for payment of this frequencies rather than shut them down, and render hundreds jobless? this is politics before reason, common sense.

    • Jamaa Moja

      indeed..I too wondered how RMS would blindly put up very costly broadscst infrastructure in non-designated locations and then further assign itself frequencies without some sort of protection from “high above”!… . SKMacharia may be a shrewd business man but he is not stupid enough to put his investment in jeopardy… He must have thought this over and got some backings from Government first before putting up his transmitters .. It is now apparent that the same people who had given him the protection are now literally pulling the plug on him.. doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.. its plain dirty politics. …….Its time we got away from this mafia way of doing things

  • Solomon Mburu

    if the guy (SK) climbed thru the ladder in such means then i dont see anything wrong with whats happening. its called politics and politicians.
    But i dont fully believe ua story, it may as well be allegations.