Industry regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has called for the arrest of SK Macharia, the owner of Royal Media Services (RMS), after it disconnected several of the station’s transmitters it alleged were operating illegally.
Macharia faces charges of operating the transmitters without the necessary permit. According to the Kenya Communications Amendment Act (2009), any telecommunications equipment found to be operating without the official approval of the CCK attracts a KSh3 million (US$35,000) fine or a jail term of up to three years for the owner.
The CCK is also accusing Keraiko Tobiko, Kenya’s director of public prosecution (DPP), of interfering with the prosecution of Macharia, after he temporarily blocked the CCK from prosecuting him.
Last week, Tobiko blocked the prosecution of RMS, claiming the CCK should produce more evidence concerning the shutdown of the transmitters before the case can proceed.
CCK’s lawyer in the case Wambua Kilonzo reacted by saying: “The seized equipment is returnable to the subordinate court which issued the warrants and the said equipment will become evidence in criminal action that will be taken against the owners.”
While announcing the shutdown of RMS’s transmitters, CCK director general Francis Wangusi said the equipment’s illegal operation interfered with other broadcasters as they had been set up in non-designated sites.
According to some analysts, whether the media owner will be arrested and prosecuted depends on the DPP’s approval.