Kenya has suspended a multi-million shilling marketing communication deal with Cable News Network (CNN) in the latest sign of an escalating row with the American news channel over a recent terrorism slur.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), a State agency that markets the country’s attractions, said the move was necessary to avoid a backlash from Kenyans angered by the “misrepresentation on the country’s security status”.
“Some narrative adverts were already running on CNN as we planned (the) launch of above-the-line TV campaigns with them but we suspended all of that,” said CEO Muriithi Ndegwa on Thursday.
CNN caused a storm after it showed a graphic just days to President Barack Obama’s July visit in which it described Kenya as a “terror hotbed”.
The remark was in reference to a spate of terrorist attacks that have rocked Kenya since 2013, climaxing on April 2 with the massacre of nearly 150 people at Garissa University College, most of them students.
Two guests invited on the CNN show to discuss security matters declared that Kenya, where about 500 people have been killed in terror attacks since 2012, was more dangerous than Afghanistan and Iraq.
The “terror hotbed” reference touched off a nationalistic fervour, with Kenyans taking to social media to mock or rebuke the American television network.