AFRICANGLOBE – Kenya has suspended a Marketing communication (MarCom) deal with American multinational TV network, CNN. This comes after CNN controversially described Kenya as a “hotbed of terror” in its report on President Obama’s expected visit.

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), a state agency that markets the country’s attractions, has said the move was necessary to avoid backlash from Kenyans angered by the “misrepresentation on the country’s security status”. “Some narrative adverts were already running on CNN as we planned launch of above-the-line TV campaigns with them but we suspended all of that,” said CEO Muriithi Ndegwa on Thursday.

In deciding to continue with previous arrangements, CNN was to serve as a platform through which Kenya’s advertisement messages would be communicated with the global market. This would have been risky business considering the reputation the multinational TV network has gained from negative reporting over the years; especially about Kenya.

Under the deal earlier made public by Tourism secretary Phyllis Kandie, Kenya was to engage CNN to run a one-year campaign targeting the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. But even though this agreement was set rolling, the authorities will now seek alternative partners in their quest to promote Kenya’s tourism sector which has recently been on a three-year decline due to bad travel advisories in response to terrorist attacks.

The perception of Africa as a rather dangerous place and how it is pretty much the same throughout the continent hasn’t helped western media coverage. It will therefore take a lot more than an apology for CNN to avert this escalating clamour with Kenya; the cable network will need to take adequate measures towards saving whatever is left of future alliance with Africa as a whole. The first step would be to avoid misrepresentation of circumstances in Africa, all in a bid catch the viewer’s eye and drive up ratings—it never ends well.

CNN’s remark about Kenya being a “hot bed” was in reference to the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya, climaxing with the murder of nearly 150 Garissa University students in April this year. During a programme centred on security matters in Kenya, two invited guests declared that the country where less than 1,000 people have been killed in terror attacks, was more dangerous than Afghanistan and Iraq.

The label drew the ire of Kenyans who used the Twitter hashtag #SomeonetellCNN to condemn the network’s negative labelling of their homeland. Not only was the CNN’s description of Kenya negative, it was also not entirely true.


By: Felicia Omari Ochelle