Kenya to slap taxes on Foreign Soap operas and telenovelas


The Kenyan government has proposed a new 50% tax or more on local TV stations that air foreign film content like soap operas, telenovas and others.

The plan was revealed by digital strategist Dennis Itumbi who was speaking during the inaugural Kenya Film Summit, held at Nairobi Cinema on Friday, September 29, 2023.

“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,” Itumbi said.

“Some of the sources of the money for the film fund will be some heavy taxation on anyone showing Telenovela. So you show telenovelas you have been escaping from tax for a long time…it will be fifty-fifty, or even higher than fifty per cent because we have local programs here why not show them?” Itumbi quipped.

He said the move aims at boosting the local film industry. It is, however, unclear when the plan will be implemented.

Meanwhile, local television stations that broadcast Kenyan soap operas will be exempt from this proposed tax. This aligns with the government’s overarching goal of boosting the local film industry by encouraging the production and broadcast of locally made content.


The newly proposed tax is part of moves to In promote and support local content in Kenya’s broadcasting industry, which is something industry players in Ghana have been looking forward to for many years now.

Television stations in Ghana are awash with soap operas, telenovelas and several others from the west, Asia, South America, and even parts of Africa. Some stations have even translated the films in local languages to get even more audience and win more sponsors.

The matter has been a talking point in the media and even all the way to Parliament, where the Speaker expressed grave concern about why local TV stations place premium on foreign soap operas from any and every where to the detriment of local content.

The is a broadcasting bill which is yet to become law. It is expected to address some of the issues raised around the harm such content is doing to the local industry.

But the Kenyan example is something Ghana can learn from – any station that insists of airing foreign soap operas must be made to pay huge taxes. Indeed, a lot of the TV stations get loads of sponsors on those foreign soap operas because they have a lot of eye balls on them.

It is time to either gain from those content or else the tax should deter the TV stations from showing those to the detriment of local versions.

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