Despite rebranding, the cash-starved state broadcaster, KBC, continues to lag behind

The broadcasting landscape all over the world has been undergoing significant technological and structural changes that the transformations that have come along, have given consumers access to a greater variety of communications and media services than ever before. The social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and video streaming sites such as YouTube, Netflix, or even audio streaming platforms such as Spotify have enabled users to access so much content especially entertainment which was television’s largest selling point. These technological evolutions and the emergence of new products and services have rendered media markets more competitive by directly benefitting consumers and the providers have been left fighting for their viewership ratings.

In Kenya, since 1927 when the British Colonial Government allowed the British Broadcasting Company to start electronic broadcasting in Kenya, KBC had been dominant and has had an unparalleled influence in the shaping of Kenya’s history being the only media in the country. Kenyans who could afford radio and television gadgets those days could only tune into the sole, government-owned radio and television station. KBC then, was more of a government mouthpiece than a public space where citizens’ voices could be aired on a range of issues. Every single content on this station was a daily ritual of the late President Moi’s diary right from the dress code to the places he’ll be visiting that day. I bet it was boring.  However, with the liberalization of the airwaves in the early 1990s, opportunities for a more diverse media playing field was created and then there was an emergence of privately-owned media that gave citizens louder voices and perspectives in the media also grew while government control of the sector reduced.

See also  Just another article about Kenyans and their lifestyles

KBC was now exposed to the harsh realities of having to compete with these private commercial stations for revenue and audiences. Then there was a wildebeest migration away from the public broadcaster into other channels that offered more entertaining content. Status of Media Report 2020 launched by the Media Council of Kenya in December last year, revealed that Citizen Television is leading by viewership at 35 percent followed by NTV Kenya at 13 percent. KTN Home (11%), KTN News (9%), KTN Burudani (1%) have a combined viewership of 21 percent. Inooro TV was ranked at 7 percent while K24 and KBC were ranked at 6 and 5 percent viewership respectively. 

KBC, after nearly a year of engagements, strategy, and planning, all in attempts to revive itself, recently rebranded with hopes that it could attract new and its old audience in order to reclaim its glory. It recalled the veteran broadcasters who served many years ago that the new generations aren’t even resonating with. I followed tweets from the hashtag #ThisIsKBC that trended the whole day on Twitter and noticed they were only tweets from the older generations. Media personalities who once worked there, Bloggers, and other professionals who were present in the times of these old broadcasters.  

Tom Mboya, Cynthia Nyamai, Shiksha Arora, John Kioria Fred Indimuli, Juma Ballo, Harith Salim, Nancy Onyancha, Catherine Kasavuli alongside the legendary Fayyaz Qureishi are among those who were brought back to help the station gain its momentum. Okay, we can forgive Shiksha Arora, but my question still stands, why is KBC so obsessed with older people? Where exactly did the youth wrong this government that they do not deserve any job opportunities? The problem with KBC is not presenters, it was never about the faces, it was never about bringing older people in order to get back its audience. It was about content and its 19th century quality of productions. So I guess that’s a failed branding already.  

See also  The 4G/3G network coverage hitch affecting 11,155 polling stations was artificially created

Mind you, I went to YouTube and discovered their streaming is still buffering, lagging, and of low resolution. But that’s not the story now. Let’s come to the logo it recently unveiled. What was that honestly? One of the key things that organizations must consider before rebranding is their logo because it informs their audiences, clients, customers, and the general public of their purpose. KBC logo looks like a STOP road sign and is of very low resolution. We will not even talk about the invisible tagline. Many users on social media attributed it to the hiring of old uncreative staff that is not conversant with the latest graphics design suites. Also, their grammar on the screen is really wanting.

Bottom-line, the government of Kenya needs to learn a lot from the United Kingdom. Public service broadcasting has a long and proud tradition in that country, delivering impartial and trusted news, UK-originated programs, and distinctive content. Research shows that UK citizens value public service broadcasting highly, and believe it is broadly delivering its purposes, thanks to the efforts taken to insulate the state-owned broadcaster BBC against politics and vested interests. Kenya needs to take important steps to ensure KBC  continues to thrive, first and foremost by making high-quality and more distinctive programs that appeal to audiences and through funds and government advertisements to be able to employ competent staff and meet its running cost. Otherwise, it will continue to rebrand for years without success. 

Enock Bett
Digital Media Enthusiast|Tech, Business, Corporate Affairs, Politics, and Governance. [No Modes]
EMAIL: [email protected]
Enock Bett on FacebookEnock Bett on Twitter

Enock Bett

Digital Media Enthusiast|Tech, Business, Corporate Affairs, Politics, and Governance. [No Modes] EMAIL: [email protected]

You may also like...