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Media Ownership a Threat to Press Freedom in Kenya

A newspaper vendor selling The Standard and Daily Nation, the most dominant privately owned newspapers in Kenya. Photo:Simon Main)

Unlike many African countries where state-owned media houses control the landscape, Kenya’s most influential media organisations are privately owned and this has significant implications for press freedom in the country.

The largest media organisations – Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group and Royal Media Services – own multiple newspapers and television and radio stations across the country, and their shareholders include powerful individuals and companies.

Kenya’s image tainted as safe haven for journalists

Kenyan journalists at a press conference in 2022. Photo by Patrick Vidija.

As one of the African countries with the highest foreign and local media presence and the most active and independent media council, Kenya has received great acclaim for a vibrant media environment compared to other nations on the continent.

The World Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Kenya at 102 out of 180 countries in 2021, and in 2022, the position improved significantly, moving to 69 out of 180, the best ranked in East Africa.