The republic of Kenya recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19 in March 13th 2020. This was after much speculation and concern by the media and people as a correspondent on SABC news stated that
“the chances of Kenya having the virus is very high as 2 patients who flew in from china are in quarantine , very ill but not confirmed cases of coronavirus”- said Sarah Kimani.
In advent of this, the Kenyan government has admonished employers in the private and government sector to work from home as it would be a measure needed to reduce the spread of the pandemic and reduce new infections.
According to SABCS with Nairobi Kenya ranking the 6th in Africa with a high risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. This is because its borders were opened for quite some time which allowed people from 18 infected countries enter the country including China, Kenya could be at a high risk of getting infected with the coronavirus.
The republic of Kenya is located in the western part of Africa with a population of over Thirty million people colonized by the British and came under the colonial control in 1884, Hachen (1971).
According to press reference (2007) Kenya has about 78.1% literacy rate with a circulation of 250,000 with a ratio of 13 per 1,000. It has 10 daily newspapers with a ratio of 6 per 1,000.
10 Tv stations with over 3.5 million homes have TV, 40% make use of Tv Ng’ang’a (2015).
38 radio stations and a whooping 3,070,000 radio receivers, 99.8 radio receivers, 99.8 radio receivers per 1,000 and an average of 200,000 number of individuals with internet access at 6.5 per 1,000
The republic of Kenya’s media history is knotted with the political and economic interests of the colonial government and the white settler communities , the Kenyan media was seen as a threat to the colonial government.
As described by Ng’anga (2015) the Kenyan media is a product of the country’s legacy and is influenced by it’s political , economic, social, cultural and technological forces locally and internationally since radio transmission began in 1927 and Television broadcasting in 1962.
However, the Kenyan media is regulated by a body known as the media council of Kenya. This body sets standards and regulates, monitors media activities and compliance.
The media council of Kenya states that the media must be independent of control by government political interests or commercial interests. The media must reflect the interest of the society, standards are set, regulated and monitored.
These guidelines applies to : (a) Media enterprises (b) Journalist (c) Media PR actioners (d) foreign journalists accredited by the media council of Kenya (e) consumers of media services ( the public falls under this group).
The kenyan media has a strong presence and power as it was a catalyst for change and enabled the country gain its independence in December 12th ,1963. It’s of essence to know the impact of the novel coronavirus on Kenya’s media.
GeoPoll who is the leading provider when it comes to vital information and statistics/ research in emerging markets throughout Africa, Asia and Latin has been actively involved in gathering and processing accurate data of the effect of coronavirus on professionals on a global scale which has measured the Kenya media audience in this pandemic.
Vivid comparisons were made by GeoPoll between the media consumption of Kenyan’s before and after government restrictions to curtail of the spread of coronavirus.
There were suspected cases but no confirmed case till march 13th. Kenya currently has 737 confirmed cases , 1 critical case, 281 recovery with 11.11% decrease in active cases and a total of 416 active cases as we speak according to ncov2019.
From March 1st -29th 2020 ,the media consumption in Kenya was analyzed which involved ages from 15 and above including male/female usage as data was analysed from 6am to 12 am.
Records showed that, TV viewership increased with 335,000. Television recorded to have more viewers. Tv had an increase from 6.76 million to 7.09 million after Covid-19 restrictions were made by the government of Kenya.
TV stations such as citizen TV, KTN news , Al Jazeera had the largest increase in viewership compared to the first 2 weeks of march 2020.
Citizen TV viewership rose to 159,000 viewers KTN news viewership rose 110,000 viewers and Aljazeera’s viewership rose to 59,000 as viewership increased on these Television stations.
However, Viewership reduced in other Kenyan stations such as KTN with a decline of 34,000 viewers. Maisha magic west east declined with 34,000 views and switch Tv declined with 3,000 viewers.
The Tv outlets did not only experience change in media reportage as reported by GeoPoll. Radio listenership fell from the 1st of march till the 29th of March as studies were carried from 6am- 12am . In the first two weeks of march, the available radio audience was 10.79 million listeners. Radio listenership dropped down to 66,000 to 10.72 million from 16th– 29th of march.
Despite the decline in radio listenership, radio still has more audience than TV the based on the effect of Covid-19 on audience behaviour.
The only radio station with significant growth was radio citizen with 115,000 growth in the month of march compared to others who were at a loss such as Radio Maisha (-53,000) , Milele FM (-35,000 ), Jambo (-19,000 ), Hot 96 (-10,000).
Despite the trends, its important to note that each radio station has it’s variation, Radio citizen stands out as it has recorded growth across most time blocks.
GeoPoll stated that the shift in radio listenership is because of certain factors like consumers are staying at home 24/7 which makes them start their day later than usual because they have no appointments, no job or any event to be up early for which has contributed somewhat to the decline in radio listenership.
As radio stations in Kenya broadcast from 6am to 8am, they broadcast news updates at the top of each hour compared to social /TV where news is relayed on a real time basis “breaking news” which leaves radio news updates behind.
The declination of radio consumption is also as a result of people are not on the go as they usually were when there were no movement restrictions. With this, radio finds itself competing with various media channels.
Another reason for media declination in Kenya according to GeoPoll is that consumers spend more time at home and this causes split in attention, and has also caused short attention span as audiences also engage with other media platforms such as social media, SVOD, VOD, gaming, DSTV, etc.
As stated by James (2020) 68% percent of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity as they are all hoping the pandemic goes down , restriction ease down, they can all come about and resume their normal lives, the younger generation seem to be listening to music than searching for the news.
Another reason for declination in media is some people are trying to distract themselves from the media news updates to protect their mental well-being as more news updates about the pandemic causes anxiety and paranoia. Hence, the increase in the use of Facebook,instagram and Netflix than radio and TV which have reoccurring news updates on Covid-19.
1.GeoPoll (2020) “Coronavirus impact on media consumption in Kenya.” Available at https://www.geopoll.com/blog/coronavirus-media-kenya/
(Accessed 7th May 2020)
2. Geopoll (2020) “Report: Coronavirus in Sub-Saharan Africa” Available at https://www.geopoll.com/blog/coronavirus-africa/
(Accessed 7th May 2020)
3.Hachen,W. (1971) ”Muffled drums: The news media in Africa” Iowa State University Press.
4. nCov2019 (2019) “World Covid-19 statistics” Available at https://ncov2019.live/
(Accessed 7th May 2020).
5.Nielsen(2020) “Radio is “comfort food” as media consumption rises amid covid-19 pandemic” Available at https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2020/radio-is-comfort-food-as-media-consumption-rises-amid-covid-19-pandemic/
(Accessed 7th May 2020).
6. Ng’ang’a, N (2015). “ The media scene in Kenya” Available at https://www.musicinafrica.net/magazine/media-scene-kenya (Accessed: 19th April 2020).
7.Press Conference(2007) “Kenya” Available at http://www.pressreference.com/Gu-Ku/Kenya.html (Accessed: 19th April,2020).
8. AMWIK (2014) ”Law governing media practice in Kenya: a journalist’s handbook” Available at http://amwik.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Laws-Governing-Media-in-Kenya.pdf (Accessed: 17th April 2020).