Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) summoned the tax-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)) over concerns of refusing to open up the airwaves for the opposition parties and that its content is largely biased towards the ruling party.
The opposition also complained that the tax-funded station has rolled out propaganda campaign by introducing new programme called Sapita Kawiri.
In a letter seen by Nyasa Times dated February 1 2018 by MCP second deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka to Macra director general Godfrey Itaye, the public broadcaster is also airing some programs such as Chinduji, Manifesto Yanu and Ndikati Chete which have been biased .
The civil society organisations (CSOs) who conducted demonstration on April 27 included in the 10-point petition on the conduct of MBC and demands President Peter Mutharika to let his government free MBC within 6o days so that opposition political parties and other stakeholders have access to the tax-funded station.
“MBC is a public broadcaster not DPP or Party Broadcaster. We give you, Your Excellency Sir, 60 days to free MBC from DPP’s capture and to allow it to work independently and professionally as provided by law,” reads the petition.
The Director General of MBC Aubrey Sumbuleta said he led the public brodacaster management team to the regulatory body for a meeting which lasted three hours.
He told Macra that Sapita Kawiri was a historical heritage programme that talks about Malawi’s past for the citizenry to draw lessons from.
Sumbuleta said Macra advised the public broadcaster to address concerns and take measures to ensure impartiality.
Media expert Lowani Mtonga told Nyasa Times that the battle to free MBC needs practical action.
“The lack of editorial independence and opening up of MBC airwaves is against the spirit of Communications Act and the Constitution. The Communications Act clearly spells out under Section 87 of the public mandate of MBC to operate without any bias or serve any political interests.
“Secondly, MBC ignores the Constitution which categorically states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and that the media has the right to publish freely. This entails MBC to be neutral and serve public interests regardless of people’s political views,” Mtonga argued.
He said MBC as a public broadcaster is falling short of the mandate as a platform for public discourseFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :