Mutharika’s Galaxy FM radio shuts down

Malawi’s only private radio station transmitting on satellite, Galaxy FM,  has been forced to close down due to financial constraints.

The station owned by late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s daughter Duwa Mutharika Mubaira was given both television and radio licenses by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) when Bingu was still in power.

The radio, since its opening last year, has been sailing in troubled waters due to poor financial management as the employees would go months without pay, and worse still, its South Africa-based satellite provider cut out services due to unpaid transmission bills.

According to sources and information published on the radio’s Facebook page, employees have taken management to court over 8 to 12 months unpaid salaries.

Off air: One of the presenters on Galaxy FM

Off air: One of the presenters on Galaxy FM

“Dear our valued listeners, Galaxy Fm has failed, we can’t operate due to money problems, we can’t pay Satellite and for the past 8 Months the company and its Directors have been failing too to pay its workers. We blame it on our Managers and marketing team for letting us down,” reads one of the posting on Facebook.

The posting further reads “If we may get the money to pay the satellite and our workers then will be back on air soon but it’s no [sic] a promise. The workers are in court fighting for 8 Months pay this Friday. Thanks for being our listeners and for always being there for Galaxyfm”.

Senior employees at the station revealed the radio stopped live broadcast last month and that they have not been paid since last year.

“Imagine, last December, the station made about K2 million and the owner (Duwa) came in and swept clean everything for her holiday trip to USA. Management was forced to source funds to pay us for Christmas and New Year’s leave,” the employees disclosed in corroboration.

According to the employees, the radio owes a South Africa-based transmission operator who installed the satellite services for the station money mounting in millions.

“The service provider has failed to negotiate with the owner who refused to pay the debt and they cut the transmission. We tried to use MTL lines but the services were poor. Some local technicians tried their luck but it also failed until the South African company agreed to reengage the services, sadly we are now failing to pay them again”.

Duwa was once entrusted by late Mutharika to operate another family media institution, Guardian Newspaper, but it folded in 2011.

Meanwhile, the employees have given management 14 days to pay them their dues or battle out in court.

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