State House has reacted to a d eclaration issued by media owners, managers, directors of news organisations to boycott press conferences organised by President Peter Mutharika, saying instead of handing news blackout, the independent media should desist from propaganda gliz.
The media representatives from Times Group, Nation Publications Limited (NPL), Capital Radio Malawi Limited, Zodiak, MIJ FM Radio Station, Chanco Radio/TV Station, Beta TV, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter and Media Council of Malawi (MCM) on Monday held a meeting and came up with a Mount Soche Declaration.
In the decalaration , the media noted “the worrying trend being championed by the State House and President Peter Mutharika with a view to limit the media space in the performance of our duty which is to enlighten the public on how it is being governed.”
They have threatened to boycott news conferences organised by State House for the Head of State, saying what happens at the State House is not a press conference but a press rally.
They also said they will hand President Mutharika and his Cabinet ministers a news blackout unless press freedom is guaranteed.
But President’s director of communications Bright Molande said if the media owners have decided to break business with government because of its demand for professionalism from some of them “that is their wisdom”.
“But that is not our wisdom. Government remains open for dialogue and no single media owner has asked for a dialogue and was turned down,” Molande is quoted in The Nation as saying.
The President’s spin doctor added: “I hope their blackout includes blackout on misinformation and negative propaganda.”
President Mutharika has been attacking the indpeendent media, particularly Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) and Times Group, over their alleged “disgusting and unprofessional reporting” of his health at the time he “disappeared” after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in United States of America (USA).
In the declaration, the media owners say they will also move the courts to seek interpretation on the role of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) which behaves as a police, prosecutor, juror and judge in regulating and policing private electronic media.
“We will present a united front as a media and regard attacks on one as an attack on us all. We will reject divide and rule machinations by the State and we will only negotiate through our mother bodies, Media Council of Malawi and Namisa,” reads the Mount Soche Declaration in part.
The private media has also pledged to ensure that they stick to professionalism and be above board in the execution of their duties.
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