The governors of Kenya’s counties are vowing to move to court to challenge a decision by the Communications Authority of Kenya denying them permits to establish radio stations in the counties.

The governors are accusing the authority of violating the Constitution and undermining the functions of counties to promote public participation in local government administration.

This follows a decision by the communications authority declining to issue radio frequencies to 20 county governments, arguing that broadcasting is not a devolved function.

The authority has directed county governments to use the State-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), for their communication needs.

The Chairman of the Council of Governors, Peter Munya, said Monday that the would approach the courts to challenge the decision.

Munya said since the country had implemented devolution there was a need for clear mechanisms for engagement and articulation of community interests.

He observed that the counties could meet this need by owning radio stations as a medium for public participation as it would be very expensive for the county governments to get air time from commercial media houses.

The counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Vihiga, Kwale, Meru, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Mandera, Busia, Machakos, Murang’a, Kakamega, and Bomet are among those which had applied for radio permits.

The County Governments Act (2012) allows the devolved units to set up media platforms in order to stimulate citizen participation in the development of policies, plans, and delivery of services in the county.

“A county government shall establish mechanisms to facilitate public communication and access to information in the form of media with the widest public outreach in the county,” reads section 95(1) of the statute.

It further lists six media platforms namely television stations; information communication technology centres; websites; community radio stations; public meetings; and traditional media.