NMG in Big Financial Trouble as Court Refuses To Stop Ksh9 Million a Week ‘The Star – My Gov’ Tender

February 22, 2024

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK)’s attempt to block the government from publishing and distributing advertisements through the MyGov weekly supplement in the Star newspaper has suffered a blow.

The High Court, presided over by Justice Chacha Mwita, refused to issue interim orders to halt the agreement, opting instead for a more detailed examination of the case.

The LSK had taken legal action against the government’s decision to award the MyGov tender to the Star, arguing that this move would undermine media freedom and restrict public access to information, thereby violating constitutional mandates.

The legal body sought immediate orders to stop the ongoing contract.

During a court session held on Thursday, Justice Mwita instructed both parties involved to prepare and exchange their responses to the petition rather than granting the requested conservatory orders.

Representing Star Publications Limited and Convergence Africa Media Limited, Lawyer Kigata highlighted that a contract had been operational for roughly two months.

He raised a preliminary objection based on the principles of constitutional avoidance and the doctrine of exhaustion, which suggest avoiding constitutional rulings when issues can be resolved otherwise.

The hearing for both the preliminary objection and the arguments regarding the petition has been scheduled for April 26.

In defense of the tender award, the government has maintained that the selection process was transparent and competitive, with the Star offering a significantly lower bid for the two-year contract at Sh9 million per weekly edition.

This is in contrast to the bids from Nation Media Group and Mediamax, which were Sh28 million and Sh23 million per weekly edition, respectively, as stated by Information and Broadcasting PS Prof. Edward Kisiang’ani.

Should the court eventually rule in favor of The Star, Mediamax is particularly vulnerable, since its People Daily newspaper is distributed free of charge, with the hope that such a massive government tender would offset the cost of production.

Struggling Nation Media Group will also suffer a massive blow to their finances, with a huge chunk of their revenue reliant on government advertising.

The Star’s bid amounts to about Sh360 million per year, as opposed to the more than Sh1 billion the state would have spent on either Nation or Mediamax.

MyGov, was previously co-distributed by 3 dailies, namely: Nation, Standard and People Daily.

Government advertising meanwhile accounts for around 30% and 40% of the revenues of these newspapers, and they argue that taking it away undermines their ability to keep government in check.

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