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Background Paper: Politics and Interactive Media in Kenya

Winnie V. Mitullah (Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi), Okoth Fred Mudhai (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, University of Cambridge), Sammy Mwangi (Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi).

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This background paper provides an overview of the history and context of interactive media and public opinion in Kenya. It is intended to contextualise and inform the study, Politics and Interactive Media in Africa (PiMA), a collaborative study by researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Nairobi and University of Zambia. The main objectives of the PiMA project are: (a) to explore the extent to which media interactivity is widening (and deepening) political participation in Africa; (b) to investigate how public opinion is collected and represented by African media and for what (and whose) purposes; and (c) to establish the extent to which public opinion expressed via interactive media affects accountability mechanisms and policy-makers’ behaviour. This working paper is organised into three sections. The first section discusses the policy and legal context for interactive media in Kenya. The second section discusses the history of broadcast media and interactive shows. The final section examines the intersection of public opinion and interactive media in Kenya.