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Lawyer Wahome Thuku Exposes Broke Mediamax LTD Over Unfulfilled K24 Contract And Why Overhyped Anne Kiguta’s Punchline Show Flopped

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Corporates signing contracts with influencers and not meeting up to their promises once again are on their check. This is one king post courtesy of Wahome’s Facebook timeline, take your time from the onset to the end.

MEDIAMAX Network LTD

A couple of weeks ago, I got myself involved with this company that owns Kameme radio and TV, K24, People Daily and others.

I don’t quite know who owns it but my very brief experience with the company is a story of mixed feelings but a story of regrets.

Starting tomorrow through to Monday I will narrate to you, slowly by slowly, details by detail what it was all about with specific graphics. Where I came from, where Iam and where am going.

It’s not so big a matter but it’s juicy and you will want to hear more, just to know what happens behind the doors.

WT and Mediamax NL DEBACLE

Wahome how can I make money from my FB and Twitter accounts?

That is the question I get almost every other week. There are numerous ways, that’s all I can say.

On my part I don’t go out to look for “business” for my wall. Several people have urged me to do that but I still consider this wall to be too small for that.

There are guys who are in full time blogging and fully employed by their social media accounts. Iam not one.

Iam a lawyer in the practice. As I type this, Iam headed to court. And that client first met me on this wall. That is what the wall does for me indirectly.

On this platform, I mainly write my ideas. Stuff that comes to my mind spontaneously. It comes from anywhere and everywhere, anytime and everytime. I get daily correspondence from friends and followers and even strangers.

But let me admit that this wall has for a good long time generated money for me even directly. Infact on several occasions, very good money. Ok, money worth the effort. Because what I call good could be peanuts to you.

Now being a media personality also I love keeping in touch with what our media generates and discussing their content.

I follow them. I post promos (adverts) for many TV and radio shows. I do it freely and spontaneously as a hobby and to drive more followers to this wall.

If a guest will be on TV show tonight and I feel it’s good to update, I post and even discuss. FOR FREE.

I will then post opinion on the guest and the host and the subject, during the show (if I get time to watch). I do it all the time when watching live interviews on Citizen, including the gangs show of my friend Francis Gachuri.

What I had not realized was that by posting the promo and discussing the TV or radio show, I was actually driving traffic to that station, which is very critical service.

Everyone wants viewership and listeners for their programs. Anyone who will bring more viewers to you is welcome, especially if it’s just for free.

Further I had not realized that actually I could be paid for it. Call me naive, but as I said, I have never considered money minting on this wall. I have never gone out deliberately to look for business for my wall. I never give much thought about Writing for Money.

Afew years back I learned that promoting public events, could generate some money. It can only generate income if your platform has sizeable following and if you are “good” at it. I did it and earned.

But even then, it’s the even owners who contacted me and I didn’t even know what to do or what to ask for.

But still I never gave much thought to the idea of promoting TV and radio programs for pay. It had not crosses my mind untill July this year when, one afternoon, as I was crossing a street near Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, I received a call.

…..to be continued at “Lunchtime” 1pm.

PART III

When my contact told me to state what my fee would be, I was surprised. We had not talked for 10 minutes and he wanted me to say what I would charge to promote the show.

I asked to know what exactly I would be getting into. At that point, he had already told me that the show would be airing on K24 TV but I had not been given the name of the show or the host. It would be a live show.

I was also informed that if I accepted the deal, I would be joining a team already contacted to do the same job but on different platforms. Mine would be purely an FB promotion.

I asked myself why K24 TV and all the Mediamax outlets could not promote it’s own show and why they needed external influencers but I didn’t give myself time to answer that.

My contact wanted me to State the figure that I would need to do the job. I asked him how much the others had asked for and he gave me the figure. I told him I would think through it and get back.

He told me a first meeting had already been set at Mediamax NL offices on DSM Place, Kijabe Street. It sounded like a fairly urgent meeting because the first “premier” show was going to air in a matter of days.

After the call, I asked myself afew questions. The money that the rest had asked for was not too high and not too low.

I had not done this in exactly those terms before but there was nothing to lose. Someone was asking to pay me to do what I always do for free.

In any case, if K24 was launching a new show and I got wind of it, I would have discussed and talked about it here, just like I do with all other TV shows. I discuss Kameme interviews here every other day without anyone asking me to do it.

Now someone was offering to pay me and I told myself, “not bad, why not”. I accepted the figure. I had set a higher figure but my contact reduced it during the second call and I said fine.

It’s was during the second call that the title of the show was disclosed to me as Punchline.

And in that second call I was made aware that it would be hosted by Anne Kiguta. I had worked with Anne at Standard Group and I knew her as fairly knowledgeable and a good researcher. On the many times we met and said hey, it was at the library of Standard Group.

I didn’t know where she had gone to and that was not my issue for now.

The next item that was disclosed to me at the second call was that during the Premier Live show, the Deputy President William Ruto would be the guest.

Now I understood why a meeting of the promoters/influencers was urgent. People who would mive the traffic. I didn’t know who the others were but I was told I would meet them.

The first meeting happened at Mediamax boardroom. And that was when I realized, at least to myself, that things would not be easy for me.

This was also the meeting in which we we would sign contracts with Mediamax. Now you understand it was not just child play…

…to be continued 19th October 2019.

PART IV

THE first strategy meeting happened on Saturday July 19 in the afternoon. It was my second time to enter DSM Place.

That was when I met two of the other “social media influencers” one of whom is very popular on Twitter and someone I know very well. No names.

I also met my contact for the first time, confirming my belief that this was a real deal. The meeting in the boardroom was attended by about six people.

The atmosphere was that of a highly urgent engagement and laying of strategy. The first Punchline Live show would be rolling the following day, Sunday 20th and the guest was DP William Ruto.

This was a session of cracking minds on how to drive traffic. It was a meeting of throwing us right into deep end on day one. In that meeting I realised several things.

ONE, my contact was not an employee of Mediamax NL. He too was part of a company of production doing the promotion for Punchline in general and Anne Kiguta in particular. Actually, that relationship has never been very clear to me and I don’t wish to ever know what it was.

Mediamax was having it’s own team from the IT, marketing and whichever other department. I only met one or two.

I learned that the six of us in the room including reps from the Mediamax IT section, were just part of a bigger group that was part of an even bigger group.

Infact I quickly established that some of the influencers were not even in Nairobi.

Iam a good, silent observer especially when put in a new environment. My friends can tell you I keenly observe. I talk less and listen more. But when I familiarize, I talk more and listen less.

One of my first observations was the disorganization in terms of what was supposed to be done and by who.

It was like one event being organized by five groups of people, each with it’s own agenda and goals. And I instantly felt part of the confusion. May be it was all in my mind.

But I see it all the time during preparations for Presidential functions where one chair will be wiped by four different people at different times, so that each can appear busy.

One person will arrange flowers in a certain way only for the second person to come and change it.

I have a huge ego that prohibits me from being part of such. I like clarity and independence.

This one was not exactly that way but close to that. Anyway, it was a very resourceful meeting. We got to hear from our bosses on what they wanted of us. And to tell them where lines would be drawn.

The target mission was simple, to ensure that everyone was tuned to K24 by Sunday 9.30pm for Punchline. We were to make it look like the second coming of Jesus.

Some people (not in the meeting) were working on different aspects of the show. It was a web and a net work, all aiming at viewership and having the best show. That is how it’s done.

No contracts were signed that day and our hosts didn’t appear keen on that. Our focus was to deliver on the first show and there was no much time left.

We had 24 hours to drive traffic to K24, a very ambitious assignment if I may call it so. The positive thing was that the guest was self-selling

During the meeting, several things came to my mind and the mind of one of the other influencers. One of the concerns for me was how to deal with the Deputy President.

It was very clear in my mind that on this one, I was running right into a conflict of interest. Based on several things I know about the DP, I don’t support his candidature for Presidency. So how was I going to handle this.

I have always discussed the DP Everytime he is on live TV show but I always discuss him in my independent mind. I needed to know how it would be this time.

We raised our concerns with our hosts and ground rules were presented to us, which resolved the conflict very amicably….

To be continued…..

PART V

The first Punchline Live show was to roll on 20th July at 9.30pm. We had a mission to send our followers to watch the station. One of my colleagues has thousands of followers on Twitter.

A WhatsApp group had to be opened, where everything would be coordinated. I came to find out it was one of the many similar groups and in many cases, one would be in the dark about the operations of the other.

As I said, ground rules were set out and made clear, which worked very well with me. First, we were taken through the ideology behind Punchline and specifically why Anne Kiguta was the host.

It was intended to be a show that addresses issues, different from other shows. And it was meant to be a show hosting the policy makers, not just any other hoi polloi street hustler and “scratchers” of hides and skins.

I recall one time James Wachai (he was not one of the team) asked if the show could be recorded from the residence of a Kibra hustler and I smiled to myself. No, the show was for the movers and shakers.

That was made clear. It’s was an upmarket product. The rest of you could tweet in your opinions but that was all.

MY concern however, was how to deal with DP William Ruto on his premier appearance. I don’t know if Ruto holds any stake in Mediamax NL but the rules were set:-

We were free to say and write anything and everything we wished to say, not only about Ruto but about any guest on the show. Infact I realized that virtually all the social media influencers were anti-TangaTanga.

It was a rule like that of the Garden of Eden. We were free to (eat) criticize all persons in the show, except (the tree at the middle) Anne Kiguta.

Infact, our core mission, actually the reason for hiring us was not only to draw traffic to the show but to mount one mighty shield of protection around Anne Kiguta.

The show had a title Punchline. It was stated that Anne would be going hard on all guests and even harder on the DP.

It was then anticipated that TangaTanga bloggers would stage a fight back, avoiding the issues and targeting Anne Kiguta the person.

She was not likely to fight back. So she needed a small, effective and efficient army to take down anyone coming one mile near her. She was the queen of the show and online security was paramount.

I knew I could offer some security by I also knew that most of the shots would be fired on Twitter, where Iam not very active.

I knew my role would be more low key. I was more interested in the content of the show more that protecting the host and engaging in online fights.

I now knew I could write commentaries on the show and topics without sparing any guest. That freedom was very critical, otherwise I was out of the deal. In any event a guest is always more important than the host in any show.

Everything was put in place for the first show, to be recorded at the DP’s residence. We knew what the topic would be and even the questions he was going to face.

Actually we always knew all the questions every guest was going to be asked and even anticipated with high accuracy, how their supporters would respond and try to bring the host down.

Vital graphics were sent out to us for promotion, including banners for the show. As the crew set up equipment at the DP residence on Sunday afternoon, pictures were sent to us.

We knew what to share out and what not to. And we were ready for the DP and anyone who came with him.

I remember he was attending church service out of town and the question as to whether he would make it became an item for discussion. Actually Iam the one who prompted it.

Our first challenge in defending and protecting the host came within the first two minutes into the program, when the DP completely “deflated her” with the question, “how are the children?”

That sent a shocking wave across the group. It was like being scored a goal in the first minute of the first half.

Our girl was under attack from the host. Kuchapiwa nyumbani. We knew how the DP wins on social media, we couldn’t let his online mercenaries carry the day. We had to regroup and fight back….

To be continued….

PART VI

In terms of viewership, the DP’s show on Punchline was a huge success. The country watched.

I mean, the country switched from other TV stations to K24. That was the target. Thats what the media owner looks for.

Forget about who won or who lost in the actual debate, the fact is that most of you watched. That was the achievement.

Let me clarify two things and you will only get the clarification if you are a sharp brain and one who grasps things quickly.

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ONE, Mediamax NL was not hiring influencers to attack or to support any guest. The first show was Ruto the second was David Muratha his rival. The company was getting bloggers to influence viewers and to drive traffic to the show.

Whether you chose to hate or to like the guest was good enough, you were putting viewership on K24. Whatever you decided to write was your own responsibility and not responsibility of the company. Is that too hard to get? No.

TWO, I said and I will repeat that even if Mediamax was not to hire me to promote the show, I would still have written alot about the show and driven my small traffic there.

I had not known about the new show, otherwise I would have posted about it and they would not have needed to contracted me. Infact I had not known about the relaunch of K24, I would have given it free publicity here.

It’s almost certain that I will go to church on Sunday, but if you come and as to pay me to go to church, so be it, welcome.

That is why I was very particular about knowing the company policy non guests and particularly on the DP.

If Mediamax wanted me to praise WSR, I would not have even discussed it with them because it was not going to happen.

The question, therefore as to whether I was being hiring to bash the DP is neither here nor there. I would still bash him again if he features on CNN.

The idea was to get people to view the station. And as I said, we had two general mandates. First was to advertise the show two days before, “irrigadless” of your attitude towards the guest. It was about The Show.

Second was to keep the debate live during the show, to keep all viewers on board and to log in more. That went together with protecting the host from bullies.

I then had my third mandate to write opinions about a particular episode, two or three days later. That was all.

The question about Anne Kiguta’s children was just a tactic by the DP to pull down her gear.

Any TV producer can tell you that before a show goes live, the host and the guest will have been together in the studio for over an hour setting up.

Anne and Ruto had long met and exchanged niceties. In any case the show was in his residence. They must have even shared a cup of tea and inquired all they needed to inquire about children.

It was now show time and the DP wanted to make it look like he has just walked in and Anne has no courtesy. As if the show should have started with talking about children.

My tackle would have been to ask the DP about his child as well, yes that one. Anyway that was explained out, debated and settled.

I repeat again that to the company, the hotter the debate about the show both in studio and on social media, the better for traffic.

And so the DP show was a huge achievement on day one of Punchline.

Back in the boardroom, things were not really going well. Some people kept on asking when contracts would be signed. The Mediamax was not keen to sign them but promises kept coming that they were being prepared.

Then there was another interesting problem.

To be continued shortly…….

PART VII

Before the boardroom meeting (it was the only one) my contact had asked us to send our full names, addresses and afew other details.

We had mailed him. Let me say I mailed him.

All through, he was our link to the HR department of Mediamax NL. Somewhere at the end of July or early August, he communicates to us that HR wanted us to send our CVs.

What!!!! The request was shocking yet hilarious. Who asks for CVs from a Facebooker and Twitterer. It became a very topical issue outside the group.

It was the first clear indication that we were dealing with a clueless bunch of humans. Were we becoming permanent and pensionable employees of Mediamax.

The last time I sent a CV to an employer was when I had black hair.

Telling bloggers to submit their CVs was a comic releaf.

We asked the contact what it was all about and sensing the protest he said only a brief biodata was needed.

I almost asked who was it that Mediamax thought they were calling when they called me from the streets of Nairobi.

The service that the company wanted, was Facebook and Twitter posts. Anyone can do that. The reason why they called me was because they had noticed this wall.

After afew days, I sent him a brief bio-data together with details on my bank account. Little did I know it was not sufficient. I will explain later.

Meanwhile, Punchline had hosted the DP and Muratha and I can’t recall who else. And it had reached climax.

Infact it hit the climax after Muratha. The two shows because the yardstick. Like a Musician who produces a hit that sells big, never again to produce another.

Another awful thing happened. The show stopped being live, it turned to being pre-recorded. I can’t recall whether the Governor Sonko show was the first pre-recorded.

That was the best indication that it was headed North. The good moments were over. We were tasked with managing a backlash arising from airing pre-recorded shows.

Initially, the mission was to ensure that very few people, if any, got to know it was pre-recorded. How to keep that secret was a tall order.

The worst came when Sonko’s people posted his pictures with Anne Kiguta in studio, on the day when the show was recorded, which was a day before it was aired.

The photos flooded the internet and everyone castigated K24 for hoodwinking them. The stigma of airing pre-recorded shows became an issue.

I asked my colleagues on the sides why the show was being pre-recorded but no one had an answer. Actually noone knew who exactly to ask. Let me point out that all along I never met Anne.

Anyhow, our assignment was therefore to tune the viewers and convince them that the content was the most important not when or where the show was recorded.

I still think so. Ok I know I always criticize when shows are not live, but the truth is that content is what really counts and the integrity of the show.

Most of the interviews we watch on CNN are either pre-recorded or we will be watching them after they have already been aired.

And so with our bio-data in, the contracts were drafted. Very comprehensive and professionally done contract. We were called to go and sign them at DSM.

The signing came with another requirement. And even before signing the contracts I noted something had changed drastically…

That will be enough for today, to be continued tomorrow mid-day.

Thanks

PART VIII

We started promoting Punchline on 19th July 2019. The first show ran on 20th July.

I signed my contract with Mediamax NL on 21st August. Others had signed afew days or weeks earlier and I must have been the last one to sign.

It was a One-month contract running from July 21st to August 20th or 21st and subject to renewal at the wish of either party.

That means July 19 and 20 when the first show was aired were not included in the contract. That was the first fraud.

Also, the contract was expiring on the day I signed it. That triggered a legal question in my mind on its validity. But having set it’s timelines I knew there was no problem that would arise.

That then meant I was signing a contract for a job already done. And yes, it was a contract. Even if it had not been reduced into black and white, it law it would still have been a contract.

The contract was between Mediamax and “Independent Contract”. That is what they refer to all those non staff working for Mediamax. It was detailed. As detailed as a good employment contract.

By the time I signed it at DSM Place, about 4 shows had already gone on air and we had done our best to ensure every show was well viewed.

There was no way of verifying and so just like you I would like to know what the ratings were.

Remember the idea was to popularize viewership of Punchline, not to fight anyone. This wall is a media house already.

The reason Mediamax scouts called me is because they knew I could drive sizeable traffic to their station.

Last night I received several texts from people telling me they are following these episodes together with thousands others who can’t comment here for various reasons.

By the time I was signing the one-month contract whose timeline had already expired, I knew there would be no renewal. And I too had become tired and disinterested.

Two, we were already carrying on with the promotion and questions as whether the contract had been renewed started coming up in the group.

First, the ratings of the show, in my opinion and from comments on social media, were going down. It was nolonger the Punchy-line. There was nothing punchy in it any more.

Second, the production team had stopped communication on the WhatsApp group. Even our contact guy did not appear to know what was happening.

Graphics were not being posted in the forum and no info was coming. I came to hear later that they had secured cheap bloggers to help them do the same job because our group was eating up their resources.

As I said the monthly amount was not very high and not low. It was way bigger than the salary of many of you comments here. And it’s just posting updates in FB a free platform.

But thirdly, preparing for the show from Friday through to Sunday and doing analysis on Mondays and Tuesdays was already taking too much of my time.

Actually, that was the only reason I felt we needed to be paid. It entailed tuning to the station at 9.30pm and engaging brains. Engaging brains can be expensive. That’s why you are here reading this.

In my household Iam the only one who wanted to be on K24 on a Sunday 9.30pm. I was trying to drive the traffic out there to Punchline but the traffic in my own house was resisting.

At another time I had to excuse myself when in a friend’s party to watch the show. It was too much.

Anyway, I signed the contract. A few days later I received texts from my contact guy and from a HR staff at Mediamax, that I had not provided my bio data. Actually I even received a call from the HR.

I didn’t know what data they wanted since I had already submitted it. I went back to DSM….

To be continued….

PART IX,

Towards end of August or early September I went to DSM Place and met one of the HR staff who had helped me in signing the contract.

He told me he had not received my bio-data. I insisted I had provided the same through my contact.

After back and forth, I said I could provide the same again and I was given a form to fill. The Form was nothing less than what you filled when applying for Huduma Namba.

It had even requirement for my next of kin and I think even the number of my dependents. They almost asked if I have a boat.

I was still amused that Mediamax NL wanted such information for merely posting on my FB and telling people to watch Punchline tonight.

Who does that? But then I realized this company takes serious any financial commitment it undertakes, or so I thought. I filled it up the form and left it there. I think I also provided my ID copy and PIN.

During that signing meeting I learned something very positive. All the other influencers had been paid except two, myself and another person.

I was told the very fact that I had not presented my bio details on time was the reason I had not been paid and I was not going to be paid till the following month.

I also established that the contract was not going to be extended and all the work done after expiry of the contract was a waste. In other words Mediamax was done with us.

Actually at that point, I was no longer interested in promoting Punchline. I was also done. I was only watching it like anyone else.

Communication about the show and guests was dead and buried. It was now a shell of it’s first episodes.

I didn’t even ask anyone what would happen. I knew come next month (October) I would get the money as contracted and call it off.

It was already like those old debts which keep coming to your mind and you keep hoping one day you will be paid but you don’t keep so much on those hopes.

The manner in which Mediamax had ended the engagement was clear it was just as unprofessional as many others.

I and the other gentleman were assured that the money would come. I believed Mediamax is too big a company not to make good it’s promises especially where it has put pen to paper in a contract.

October came and the first days passed. I realised this was going to be a hoax. I kept inquiring from my contacts and the HR but no one sounded very sure of what was happening. Then I realised there was a problem..

Continuing shortly.

PART X

MY correspondence with Mediamax from end September to mid October created the impression in my mind that the money had been lost. It was money for only one month, thank God I had not engaged longer.

From internal sources, I realized things were thick. I was informed that Independent Contractors are paid after all the permanent staff have been paid. That is hogwash but really non of my business. By 10 of October I was told even the permanent staff had not been paid. Either 10th or slightly earlier.

That raised a red flag. Could Mediamax NL be on the red? For all the 7 years I worked for NMG and 7 for Standard Group, all the salaries were paid before 28th of every month.

Not a single month did salaries arrears go to the next month. I now got more concerned about the other permanent employees than about myself. What’s happening at DSM?

Nevertheless, after inquiring about the pay several times, I realised I was being managed. Why would such a big company would want manage a small contractor?

I shared the story with my senior Lempaa Soyinka and instructed him to serve Mediamax with a demand letter. He wrote the letter and I served the company on 15th October, the day I waited at the reception.

That day, even the HR officer I had been dealing with refused to see me. I guess the managing tactics had reached the end. Hands had been washed and I was on my own.

This week we will be contemplating the next step. Taking the dispute to court is an option well on the table. But even before we get there, I still wonder why Mediamax would default on its obligation after signing a contract. Does the company have professional integrity? Is the company still doing well?

That said, I have now learned that using my page to offer some free services is not healthy. Regardless of whatever the service. I need to make the money. Kenyans are ready to pay, so why not charge them? I have come from the deep end, why swim on the shallow end again.

So anything you ever read here henceforth, may have a contract behind it or it may not. What you think has been paid for will actually be free and what you think is free mind will actually have been contracted for. Its upon you to know what you would like to believe and to do it freely.

THAT brings me to THE END


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