Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), the distributor of electricity, has affected a ban against advertising title of the giant news organisation Times Group deemed critical of government.
Times Group publishes the Daily Times, Malawi News, Sunday Times, broadcast on Times Radio and Times TV.
The media giant has been critical to Escom and its “comrade in crime” Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) over a botched up procurement of generators that were expected to add 78 megawatts (MW) to the national grid to minimise the intensity of current blackouts.
In a letter leaked from Escom and sourced at MediaHub chatgroup of Malawi journalists, Times Group Managing Director Leonard Chikadya has complained to the distributor of electricity over its decision to ban advertising.
Chikadya, according to the letter with a stamp of Escom indicated it ha been received on November 2 , 2011 said he was complaining about the bad of advertising following a telephone conversation he had with Escom cief executive officer Evelyn Mwapasa.
He said Times Group will seek “redress” from the Competition and Fair Trading Commission, saying “we are of the strongest opinion that your advertising ban amounts to anti-competitive conduct contrary to the Competitive and Fair Trading Act.”
Chikadya decribed the decision of Escom as “punitive approach.”
The letter further reads: “While the highest office of the country, State House is able to support Times Group you have banned advertising business with us. It is therefore our view that your decision is not sanactioned by the State House.”
State agencies, including Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), target Times because it is a popular, trusted news source for Malawian citizens.
Escom management could not immediately comment on the ban.