Minister of Information Communication Technology and Civic Education, Patricia Kaliati, has urged the country’s television stations to include adequate local content in their programs in order to promote Malawi’s cultural values.
She observed that despite the continued increase in the number of television channels on the domestic scene, most of their programming are foreign-based, a development which she observed would make the local culture disappear.
The minister made the appeal in Mzuzu Tuesday when she presided over the first phase of analogue television transmission switch-off for Mzuzu and Zomba cities.
The development means that people in these cities will no longer be able to view the country’s local television stations unless they purchase the Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network Limited’s (MDBNL) branded Kiliye kiliye digital decoders.
Kaliati said her ministry will push the country’s communication regulatory body, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), to ensure that all local televisions broadcast a lot of local content.
“I wish to urge our regulator to remain vigilant and foster good content production that promotes our culture and values.
“We need programming that tells our stories, educates our children to be proud of their country and [that] safeguards them from negative foreign influences including pornography,” she said.
The Information Minister added that the move will also create more job opportunities in the creative industry.
She, therefore, said that no effort should be spared in developing the content production industry in Malawi by mobilizing, training and capacitating the content developers and providers.
On his part, MACRA’s technical advisor, Dr Benson Tembo, conceded the regulatory body has a huge task ahead in pushing the country’s television to adhere to the local content programming.
He said there is need to acknowledge that televisions stations select the content and content is very expensive, yet is it key to television broadcasting.
“It is important to help the television stations, [on how best they can come up with local content]. First of all, MACRA will put content regulation measures in place so that the owners of the television stations should exactly know what to put on the screen.
“Some people think that any content [available] on the DVDs (Digital Versatile Disks) can go on the television, which is wrong. So there is need to go with the classification of the content because normally, not all programmes are suitable for all ages,” said Tembo.
He assured the public that the regulatory body is conducting a research on why televisions are failing to come up with a lot of local content, and thereafter, it will see how best it can help them.
On the other hand, he commended the switch-off of the analogue transmission, saying it is a welcome development to the television broadcasting in the country as the technology was failing to cover all parts of the country.
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