More Woes For Kenyan Newspapers In Latest Govt Report

Print was allocated Ksh1.5 billion between July and September 2023

More Woes For Kenyan Newspapers In Latest Govt Report
An image of newspapers on sale in Kenya. /BBC

A report released on Monday, February 26 by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) revealed that out of Ksh16 billion being spent on advertising via the country's media channels, the least was being spent on print including newspapers and magazines.

According to the data, print was allocated Ksh1.5 billion between July and September 2023, a telling sign of how advertising expenditure is being diverted to other media channels in the wake of digital disruption.

Comparatively, TV stations bagged Ksh10.9 billion in advertising revenue and received above Ksh3 billion every month as advertising revenue since January 2023.

Screengrab of advertising expenditure between July and September 2023. /COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY OF KENYA

Radio on the other hand came second with Ksh3.6 billion in ad revenue going towards radio stations, bagging between Ksh1.4 billion and Ksh1.8 billion since January 2023. Newspapers received advertising revenue of between Ksh450 million and Ksh700 million.

"The share of advertising spends on TV remained constant through the three months. The total advertising spend was Ksh5 billion in July, Ksh5.3 billion in August and Ksh5.7 billion in September 2023.

"Compared to the same period last year, the quarterly ad spend has reduced by 19%," stated the report in part.

Newspapers have been among media channels that have struggled to adapt to the rise of digital media as more Kenyans gravitate towards social media platforms that include bloggers, digital native media houses and influencers as their source of news in real-time.

In response to a downturn in fortunes, some of the country's leading newspapers have been implementing paywalls, with Nation Media Group (NMG) among the few going back to the paywall system after scrapping it ahead of the 2022 general elections.

A source who previously spoke to Viral Tea revealed that the move to reintroduce the paywall was a response to the decline in NMG's profits which saw the media house record a 98.8 per cent decline in net profit from Ksh247.8 million in the 2021/2022 financial year to Ksh2.9 million in 2022/2023.

The media house has been making drastic decisions to save its financial fortunes through efforts to reduce the population of its workforce to cut down its payroll and strengthen its position in the digital space, though the results are still yet to bear fruit

Meanwhile, CA however revealed that overall, media spending has decreased due to government budget cuts, and brands are currently prioritizing market retention by implementing targeted exposure strategies with minimal spending.

"Additionally, brands with a wider product portfolio opt for a range of product campaigns and intermittent exposure.

"The expenditure on a combination of TV, radio and print declined by 15% in July and increased by 5% and 8% respectively in August and September 2023," added the report.

Overall spending experienced a 14% decline compared to the same period last year due to low consumer purchasing power, anti-government protests and skyrocketing commodity prices.

Members of the public reading copies of the Daily Nation on the streets. /NATION MEDIA GROUP