Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has warned that it will suspend all phone-in programmes during the elections period should broadcasters in the country continue letting callers use hate speech.
MACRA Director of Telecommunication, Lloyd Momba said Wednesday in Lilongwe at a broadcaster’s workshop that the organisation will use its powers to impose serious sanctions on broadcasters who choose to continue to breach terms and conditions of their licences.
“We noted with regret that even broadcasters who have the profanity machine still do let hate speeches by callers to be heard. Should this continue, MACRA will suspend all phone-in programmes by all broadcasters for the rest of the election period,” said Momba.
He further warned that MACRA will be more vigilant and strict during the polling day, the day official results will be announced and when a new president will be sworn in order to make sure that there is no enticing and sensationalizing by broadcasters aimed at destabilizing peace and tranquility in the country.
In her remarks, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioner Nancy Tembo advised the broadcasters to exercise reason and rationale in their course of work if the country is to achieve free and fair tripartite elections.
“Because the media reaches out to a multitude of audience within a short time, you have a critical role of bringing electoral information to the public. You need to do this in a manner that does not disadvantage any contestant,” said Tembo.
She added,”otherwise, if the media do not offer a level playing field for all contestants, this approach can easily undermine all the efforts by MEC and all stakeholders to have free, fair and credible elections”.
The workshop attracted broadcasters from all radios including community radio stations from both northern and central regions of Malawi.