The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has no choice but to change from being a tool for advancing state propaganda to a public service broadcaster, in a bid to operate within the pillars of democracy.
The pillars of democracy advocate openness and dialogue in a society to achieve sustainable socio-economic development.
The Minster of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu made the remarks on Saturday when he was opening a three- day National Conference on Broadcasting Reform seminar with the theme: ‘transformation of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation from state to a Public service Broadcaster,’ at Cross Roads Hotel in Lilongwe, convened by the Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi (MISA Malawi).
“Government of President Dr Joyce Banda is determined to change the present method for operating the MBC which lacks openness and dialogue.
“At the moment our government is using communications Laws of Malawi section 86, 87 and 88. But I am glad to tell the nation that the Communications Bill designed to suit modern democracy has been prepared, only that we are waiting for Principal Secretaries to discuss it and subsequently we will forward it to the House of Assembly for the legislators to deliberate on and come up with a model of broadcasting to suit the modern democracy.
“We see the necessity to operate the MBC by moving together with the international world which is entrenched in democracy. We are committed to change the laws, but bear with us we must do so following proper process,” said Minister Kunkuyu while stressing that the MBC was a public service institution.
He said broadcasting was crucial for socio-economic development adding that 80 percent of Malawians live in the rural areas.
“To achieve sustainable socio-economic development in our country we need to transform the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and ensure that it operates within democratic guidelines which advocate for steering openness and dialogue, the procedure will help to economically improve the lives of Malawians, especially in rural areas.
“The views of Malawians must be heard on the radio, they have a right to express their views on MBC without fear. Malawians must be convinced that MBC belongs to them,” said Kunkuyu.
He thanked Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) for funding the seminar.
On his part Media and ICT Programme Manager for OSISA Dr Dumisani Moyo said establishment of Public Service Broadcasting was spreading in Africa adding that he appreciated to note that Malawi was determined to follow suit.
“I applaud Malawi government for allowing MISA Malawi to organize this seminar. It is a rare thing.
“We are grappling with democracy today, as such the public service broadcaster needs to change in order to deliver quality programmes. Broadcasting is one of the greatest gifts in the world built on the rocks of democracy today.
“We need to move away from the belief that broadcasting is the Master’s Voice,” said Moyo.
Moyo also commended Malawi for giving broadcasting certificates to private media houses which included permission to operate community radios as well.
“This decision will definitely help improve commerce and financial independence. The rural masses will have a great opportunity to enter into dialogue and express themselves on the radio.”
Speaking earlier MISA Malawi Chairperson Anthony Kasunda said MBC which was established in 1964 had for the first time transformed from being a mouth piece for Malawi government’s propaganda with the swearing in of President Banda on April 7, 20012.
He said it was bad that the MBC remained state machinery contrary to the UN international Charter on broadcasting which sought for giving equal opportunity to all people for utilising public broadcasting houses.
“We had for ten years discussed introduction of Communications Bill. Last year the Ministry of Information and Civic Education announced that the Communications Bill had been completed awaiting the Principal Secretaries to scrutnise it for cabinet approval.
“We appeal to the government to expedite the process of the Communications Bill for Parliament deliberation.
“However I am glad to report here that the present government has introduced an atmosphere of a good level of press freedom, unlike their predecessors, “said Kasunda who is also Regional MISA Regional Chairperson.
The business discussions at the seminar will include Public Service Broadcasting in Malawi: Experiences and the need for reform, Overview of Broadcasting Regulation in Malawi, Regional and International Experiences on Public Service Broadcasting, Relevant Regional and International Instruments on Public Service Broadcasting, Roadmap/Plan of Action and Model on Public Service Broadcasting for Malawi, Media Law and Advocacy and The Role of Public Service Broadcasting: Lessons from other countries , among others.
The Seminar has drawn participants including media managers and directors from both the print and electronic media houses, representatives of MACRA, representatives from Religious and privately owned Media houses, the Civil Society Institutions, personnel from the Ministry of Information and Civic Education and members of Parliament Committee for Media and Communications, among others.
The course presenters include the academia from the University of Malawi (UNIMA), Media Council of Malawi, MBC, South Africa, Namibia, and MISA Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :