Kenya Media

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Kenya Media

The Kenya media landscape is dominated by a handful of outlets that hold about 70% of the market. While freedom of expression is provided by the Kenyan constitution, that freedom has been threatened in recent years due to security issues. The public relations industry has suffered from bias and misconceptions in the Kenyan culture in the past, but it is beginning to emerge as a credible profession.

The top media outlets include Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services, the Standard Group, Mediamax, and Radio Africa Group. Some top Kenyan journalists include Mohammed Ali, named the "Best Investigative Journalist of 2017," and veteran CNN anchor and correspondent Zain Verjee.

In terms of the media's focus on lifestyle, whiskey, or alcohol, most of Kenya's top publications have lifestyle-focused sections that may highlight the alcohol industry. A few magazines, such as Hapa Kenya and Yummy, appear to feature articles on this niche, though I found no publications that target that specific market.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

According to Kenya's Business Today, the PR industry is still emerging as it fends off long-held biases and misconceptions. Once thought of as a "necessary evil" by corporate executives, many companies are beginning to outsource their PR efforts to the growing number of agencies in the country.

The Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) is the professional body for PR professionals in Kenya with the goal of advancing excellence in the field. It is a member of the East African Public Relations Association. The PRSK is working to provide PR professionals with education and certifications to help give the profession credibility. Unfortunately, their list of PR firms is not currently populated.

Several of the top public relations firms in Africa include Africapractice, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Weber Shandwick, Ogilvy PR, and Kenya-based Ginadin Group. However, I found no firms that specialize in whiskey, alcohol, or lifestyle issues.

MEDIA MARKET

While "freedom of expression and of the media" are part of Kenya's constitution. However, these freedoms have been challenged in recent years, according to a 2017 report by Reporters Without Borders, due to security concerns relating to terrorism. The Security Laws Amendment Act of 2014 is designed to "restrict media freedom," while a proposed law threatens online news sources.

According to a 2017 country report on journalists in Kenya, Nairobi is the largest media market in the country. Some 16 million Kenyans consume media daily, but another 5 million are considered "media dark," indicating limited access. Television, for instance, is one of the dominant news sources in urban areas, but rural access is limited.

According to a survey, Kenyans largely prefer traditional forms of media with 94% consuming TV, radio and print media. The survey, conducted by FMC Group, found that 64.8% of Kenyans like radio, 30.6% value TV, and 1.6% prefer reading newspapers. A mere 1.9% source there news online and a scant 0.8% via social media. However, social media is seeing unprecedented growth and may become a stronger player in the market.

• Radio
The radio scene in Kenya comprises primarily entertainment, music, and phone-in shows. Radio is an important option for rural areas, which are also the most populous areas. The BBC World Service offers "full-time FM relays" in Nairobi, Mombasa, ad Kisumu.

• Television
Digital TV has bolstered the diversity of content in a variety of languages. Satellite TV options come from DStv, Kenyan-based Zuku TV, and China-based StarTimes.

• Print
The print media sector is considered very competitive and sophisticated by some, yet it is also thought to be rife with bias and inadequate reporting.

KEY PLAYERS

According to a report on Kenya's media sector, the top players in the market the Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services, the Standard Group, Mediamax, and Radio Africa Group (which owns the Star newspaper). These media outlets hold about 70% of the market in terms of consumers and advertising.

Nation Media Group is one of the dominant media outlets in Kenya, as well as in neighboring countries. Their tagline is "Media of Africa for Africa." It claims to be "the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa," including Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. The ventures include TV and film.

The Standard is another dominant player in the Kenyan market. It is a Kenya's oldest, privately-owed daily newspaper.

The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation is a top television and radio outlet, but it is seen by many consumers as being "biased toward the government or the ruling party" because the KBC Act grants absolute authority to the government when appointing its board.

According to a BBC profile of the Kenya's media market, other top outlets include:
Press: Three Nation Media Group properties: Daily Nation, East African, and Taifa Leo
Television: Kenya Television Network (KTN), NTV, Citizen TV, and K24
Radio: Capital FM, East FM, Kiss FM, Radio Citizen, Milele FM
News: Kenya News Agency

KEY JOURNALISTS

A list of the 100 top journalists in Kenya names Mohammed Ali as the "Best Investigative Journalist of 2017." The Lifetime Achievemlent Award to Zain Verjee, a 20-year industry veteran anchor and correspondent with CNN and Kenya Television Network.

Other names topping the list include Jeff Koinange, Larry Madowo, John Allan Namu, Hussein Mohammed, Linus Kaikai, Sophie Ikenye, Nimrod Taabu, Joe Ageyo, Yvonne Okwara, and Lulu Hassan.

An article at Kenya's Business Today names five television journalists who are expected to define the industry in 2018: Victoria Rubardiri, Timothy Otieno, Salim Swale, Mike Mondo, and John Allan Namu.

WHISKEY, LIFESTYLE, ALCOHOL

While I found very little in the way of publications that focus on the alcohol industry, many of the top publications devote sections to lifestyle. The Star's Off Beat section features lifestyle stories, while the Daily Nation, the Standard, and Capital FM all have lifestyle sections.

The Kenyan chapter of Women Who Whiskey was featured in the Star in an article written by Enos Teche. It was also featured in Kenya's Yummy Magazine. Yummy also featured Nairobi-based Gentlemen of Whiskey in an interview with four members. Yummy's editor and project manager, Wendy Watta, is a whiskey lover.

A December 2017 article in the Standard, written by Gatonye Gathura, notes that Kenyans, particularly in Nairobi, are beginning to drink more whiskey and spirits, due to the younger working class.

Euticus Mola is a lifestyle contributor for Hapa Kenya, a publication focused on lifestyle, entertainment, travel, and more. He has written numerous articles relating to the alcoholic beverage industry. James Wamathai has also written about alcohol topics for Hapa Kenya.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the Kenyan media landscape is dominated by five large media outlets (the Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services, the Standard Group, Mediamax, and Radio Africa Group) that hold over two-thirds of the market. Kenyans appreciate traditional media sources, such as television and radio, with the latter being an especially important source of information for rural inhabitants. Top Kenyan journalists include Mohammed Ali, Zain, Verjee, Jeff Koinange, Larry Madowo, John Allan Namu, Hussein Mohammed, Linus Kaikai, Sophie Ikenye, Nimrod Taabu, Joe Ageyo, Yvonne Okwara, and Lulu Hassan. While there appear to be no alcohol-focused publications in Kenya, a number of publications cover that market, including Hapa Kenya and Yummy.
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