Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) operates a spate of television and radio channels, focused on education, information, and entertainment. KBC’s flagship television station is Channel 1.

Media assets

Television: KBC Channel 1, Heritage TV, Y254

Radio: KBC Radio Taifa, KBC English Service; Commercially run: Coro FM, Pwani, Nosim, Minto, Kitwek, Mayienga, Mwatu, Mwago, Ingo, Iftiin

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

KBC is a state-owned corporation established by the Act of Parliament CAP 221 with a mission to provide broadcast services in English, Kiswahili, and other languages to the Kenyan audience. The KBC chairman is appointed by the President and the members of the KBC Board of Directors are appointed by the minister for information and communication.

In May 2024, Agnes Kalekye, formerly Chief Operating Officer at The Star Publications and Chair of the Media Owners Association, was appointed CEO of KBC. Former CEO of KBC Samuel Maina committed the Kenyan government to pay US$5bn (KES 65bn), which was awarded by the London Court of International Arbitration, to British Broadcaster Channel 2 Group without approval from the Kenyan authorities. This decision cost Maina his job in late December 2023.

Source of funding and budget

KBC is funded through a combination of state financing and advertising revenues. The government subsidy is supposed to account for a small share of KBC’s total budget. However, the station has been in debt for years as it could not generate sufficient advertising revenue to cover its expenses. By 2019, KBC incurred debts worth KES 71bn (US$ 644m), a large amount for Kenyan standards. Thus, the government had to back the KBC financially, funding the station directly or indirectly (by covering the corporation’s debts). Most of the KBC’s outstanding debt is due to a loan from a Japanese lending agency. Around KES 71bn, the loan was used to improve the station’s infrastructure. In June 2024, the National Assembly asked the National Treasury to cancel the loan, which reached KES 90.7bn.

KBC is also liable for a lawsuit in the UK, estimated at KES 40bn. The case began in 2009 when KBC scrapped a joint venture agreement with Amjam TV, a company owned by a Dubai-based businessman.

There is no publicly available data about the size of the KBC’s budget. According to local experts and journalists, KBC operated for many years with an average yearly budget of KES 1.2bn (US$ 10.8m). In 2024, KBC received a state budget allocation of KES 2.2bn (US$ 15.1m), according to documents from the Kenyan government.

Editorial independence

KBC lacks independence from government interference and generally fails to offer impartial coverage mainly because of interference from government officials and politicians. The managing directors are sacked if the station doesn’t comply with the editorial rules or requirements from the government. Because of these repeated attacks and pressures, self-censorship is common among KBC editors and journalists.

Although the law that created KBC formally requires the broadcaster “to provide independent and impartial broadcasting services,” no domestic statute that establishes the editorial independence of the KBC has been identified.

No independent assessment or oversight mechanism to validate the broadcaster’s editorial independence has been identified either.

June 2024