Itumbi Hints That Government Considering 50% Tax on TV Stations Airing Foreign Shows

In a groundbreaking move aimed at revolutionizing the Kenyan entertainment scene, Dennis Itumbi, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Information and Communication and Digital Economy, has unveiled an ambitious plan during the inaugural Film Industry Summit in Kenya.

The government is contemplating imposing a staggering 50% tax, or possibly even higher, on revenues generated by TV stations airing foreign soap operas and series. This bold step is part of a broader initiative to champion local content and fuel the growth of Kenya’s film industry.

The tax revenue collected from this proposal is earmarked for a film fund, as revealed by the digital strategist. The government is actively devising a film funding model, with a significant portion sourced from local television stations that profit handsomely by syndicating international soap operas at bargain rates.

However, local television stations broadcasting Kenyan soap operas will be granted a tax exemption, aligning perfectly with the government’s mission to elevate the domestic film sector. Dennis Itumbi stated, “Most of our TV stations show soap operas, and those are not subject to tax because they come in a flash disk and they start airing.”

The heart of this funding strategy revolves around taxing broadcasters airing telenovelas, which have long evaded taxation. Itumbi emphasized, “So, if you show telenovelas you have been escaping from tax for a long time, it will be fifty-fifty, or even higher than fifty percent, because we have local programs here; why not show them?”

The Kenya Film & Television Professionals Association (KFTPA) orchestrated the historic Film Industry Summit, themed “Breaking barriers and shaping the future of our film industry.” This gathering drew Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba as the chief guest, fresh from sealing a pivotal deal with Hollywood Invention Studios CEO Nicky Weinstock at the Kenyan Consulate in Los Angeles.

Under this arrangement, Hollywood Invention Studios commits to promoting Kenya as a premier filming destination while supporting the local industry through the Talanta Hela Initiative. The program is envisioned to catapult E-Talanta and Africa’s creative content into the global spotlight.

In reciprocation, the Kenyan government pledges incentives, including visa waivers, streamlined entry for filming equipment, and unrestricted access to prime filming locations. The event, a monumental leap for Kenya’s film industry, unfolded on September 29, 2023, at the Nairobi Film Center, Uchumi House, Aga Khan Walk, CBD, running from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.

This groundbreaking tax proposal and partnership promise a vibrant future for Kenya’s film industry, fostering job creation and national development while putting Kenya on the global cinematic map.