Rethinking KFCB and the Misguided Attempt to Control Online Media

KFCB is coming for your creativity!

When the Films and Stage Plays Act of 1962 was introduced, the world was very different. Kenya was still a British colony, and a huge percentage of the people alive then hadn’t yet seen a television. This is the law that established the Kenya Films Classification Board (KFCB), the same organisation that just a few hours ago sent letters to a select number of Kenyan creators on YouTube, informing them that they require a license to express themselves digitally.

Television is dead. There was a time when it was everything – the era when propaganda was fed to us, and we couldn’t tell right from wrong. But those days are gone. The television now serves merely as a glass panel in our homes, accessing the internet with on-demand content from across the globe. Nowadays, it has transformed into a glass slab we carry around in our pockets, where we watch world leaders lie straight to our faces. Television has become TikTok, where we witness live events, whether they’re broadcasted with expensive cameras from other countries or streamed from simple smartphone cameras in people’s houses, toilets, churches, cars, or even by the petrol station complaining, praising, teaching, entertaining.

TV is dead, and KFCB is grasping at straws to seem relevant. To claim relevance. 

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Let’s play with words now, KFCB. What defines a film? Anything shot on camera? Well then, let’s have KFCB review all the ‘films’ we shoot daily with our smartphones and tiny cameras. Let’s require every smartphone user in Kenya to obtain a license from the board. How about introducing a mechanism that tracks which Kenyan smartphones have recorded footage, enabling the KFCB to watch and classify everything? Yes? Only then should people be allowed to post their content online! And why stop at YouTube uploads? Let’s regulate any platform that allows public distribution of content, including Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp groups.

We live in a modern world, one that demands contemporary responses to evolving technologies. We cannot have outdated laws affecting our livelihoods in the modern age. The role of the KFCB should be confined to classifying content for free-to-air terrestrial TV, public cinemas, and rating shows and movies that voluntarily request such ratings.

If we’re keeping up with the modern world, let’s do what the modern world does. Let’s consider the United States – where YouTube originates yeah? There, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) classifies films but does not interfere with online streaming content unless it is broadcasted on television. Similarly, in the UK, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) oversees films and videos, yet user-generated content on platforms like YouTube is exempt unless it crosses specific legal thresholds.

Kenya is a democracy, not a dictatorship that fears mockery or suppresses civic education through media content. It is unreasonable, illogical, and even disastrous for the KFCB to claim or even suggest that content creators posting online are operating illegally, as this undermines the principle of free speech.

If Kenya is aspiring to align itself with ‘the big leagues,’ we should consider adopting a more progressive stance towards digital content, recognising the transformative shifts in how media is produced and consumed in the modern era. The actions of the KFCB, as they stand, are not only anachronistic but also potentially stifling to the creative and technological advancement that Kenyan content creators are capable of driving forward. If Kenya truly wishes to thrive in the digital age, it needs policies that support innovation and freedom in digital content creation, rather than outdated, heavy-handed regulations that hark back to a markedly different era as boards struggle to remain relevant and have salaries.


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