Index 2024
102/ 180
Score : 53.22
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
116/ 180
Score : 51.15
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Respect for press freedom in Kenya is highly dependent on the political and economic context. A Pakistani journalist’s murder in October 2022 highlighted the dangers that media personnel face in this country. 

Media landscape

The Kenyan broadcasting sector is rich and diverse, with more than 100 radio stations and nearly 50 TV channels. The Royal Media Services group dominates the market, with 14 radio stations and three TV channels, Citizen TV being the most popular. The print media are much less developed, with just four daily newspapers on the market. The press group Nation Media Group dominates the media landscape in Kenya and East Africa. 

Political context

Much of the media is owned by political leaders or people close to the government. William Ruto’s election as president in August 2022 marked the start of a difficult period for the media, with the heads of major press groups, including the Nation Media Group, and leading media outlets, such as the Daily Nation, being fired as a result of political pressure. The authorities can influence the appointment of media managers and editors, and those in charge of the media regulator, which is portrayed as independent but in reality depends directly on the government. This strong governmental presence leads to self-censorship. 

Legal framework

Freedom of the press is enshrined in the 2010 Constitution, but the twenty or so acts and laws regulating journalism in Kenya include many provisions that challenge press freedom’s basic principles. The 2018 Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, for example, provides for sentences of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 40,000 euros for the dissemination of “fake news” likely to incite violence. Access to public information is still very difficult despite the adoption of a law on the subject. 

Economic context

Senior officials in the Ruto government consider some media outlets to be political interest groups. Generally speaking, no measures have been taken to improve the economic environment of the media. The health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic also led to the elimination of at least 300 journalist jobs and the replacement of news programmes with music on many radio stations, according to the Kenyan journalists’ union. The process by which state aid is allocated to the media is not transparent.

Sociocultural context

Ethnicity is often linked to political loyalties and plays a big role in Kenyan journalism. Journalists are sometimes promoted – or sidelined – in news organisations on the basis of their ethnicity. Stories relating to national security, terrorism, religion and drug, arms and human trafficking are very sensitive, and journalists who have covered these subjects have sometimes had to ask for protection.


The October 2022 assassination of renowned Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif brought the issue of journalists’ safety to the forefront. The various investigations into his murder have been marked by a lack of transparency made worse by the absence of a mutual legal assistance agreement between Kenya and Pakistan. Covering events organised by the opposition, especially protests, or depicting the ruling party’s dysfunction can also be costly for journalists. Electoral campaigns often lead to a major resurgence in abuses against journalists, who may be subjected to physical attacks by both the police and members of the public, intimidation campaigns, threats from politicians, and confiscation of equipment by the police. Investigations into abuses comitted against journalists rarely result in convictions.