Media practitioners and public opinion on interactive broadcast TV shows in Africa: Citizen TV (Kenya) and Muvi TV (Zambia)
Okoth Fred Mudhai (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, University of Cambridge)
Interactive TV and radio shows are popular phenomena in Kenya and Zambia. Drawing primarily from interview- and observation-based research in TV stations in Kenya and Zambia, this paper examines the role of media practitioners in shaping interactive broadcast programmes, and the nature and possibilities of audience participation. Looking at the cases of Muvi TV’s The Assignment in Zambia and Power Breakfast and Cheche on Kenya’s Citizen TV, it considers the agency of the host and presenter of interactive shows. This working paper analyses the various ways that hosts implement ground rules for appropriate behaviour of audience members and seek to create space for different voices. It then turns to analyse the constraining effects of the wider political and regulatory environment in the two countries, for instance, Zambia as a ‘Christian nation’ and a relatively peaceful country, and Kenya as a ‘volatile nation’ due to insecurity, including terrorism-related threats and ethnic tensions. In so doing, this paper finds that despite structural factors and individual limitations, the hosts of these shows see themselves, and have been seen by audiences, guests and political elites, as key drivers and celebrities that shape access and nature of participation.