Governance & accountability in Kenya (BBC Media Action)

We set up an SMS feedback channel to gauge the impact of a TV and radio series on the audience's attitudes and behaviours towards governance.

We designed an SMS feedback channel for BBC Media Action in Kenya to reveal audiences’ opinions and demographics.

for an interactive TV and radio series

In the run-up to the 2013 Kenyan elections and afterwards until 2014, BBC Media Action and the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) broadcast a TV and radio series where citizens could discuss key political issues, called Sema Kenya (Kenya Speaks). It had over 6 million viewers! The short video (1:44) below gives a taste of the popular programme.

BBC Media Action were keen to understand the audience, and whether the show had an impact on their attitudes and behaviour. They asked us to set up an interactive SMS channel and to analyse the resulting SMS data. Audience members who participated received follow-up socio-demographic survey questions as well as an impact question: ‘What have you done differently after watching Sema Kenya?’. The ‘real-time’ feedback supported programme development with audience messages read out by Sema Kenya presenters.

Insights & impact

Our findings were a valuable complement to BBC Media Action’s audience research, including nationally representative surveys and focus group discussions. We found that:

  • 50% of Sema Kenya respondents were 25 years old or less.
  • Respondents were widely dispersed, with only 16% texting from Nairobi.
  • Sema Kenya impacted people’s views about corruption, especially  raising awareness among women about the effects of giving or accepting bribes.
  • Men reported being more sensitised about maintaining security and nature conservation.
  • Sema Kenya also triggered some local initiatives to combat corruption or educate youths.
  • The majority of respondents recognised that Sema Kenya has had a big impact in their lives and some have decided to take action. For instance, a 19-year-old viewer in Nyamira said, “I’ve decided to begin the change with me, making sure [I] don’t receive or ask bribes. As a role model I’ll extend [this practice] to friends and friends of friends and finally Kenya.

Our pilot with Africa’s Voices was really illuminating. Through interactivity with our audience we were able to see who was listening and watching to our TV and radio programme, Sema Kenya, and where they were in the country. And not only that, we were able to collect unique evidence of the impact of the programme.

Angela Muriithi
BBC Media Country Director for Kenya and Somalia