Macra under fire for threatening private broadcasters: Times, Mibawa and Zodiak

Malawi Regulatory Communications Authority (Macra) has threatened to shut down three powerful private broadcasters in the country for allegedly  violating their broadcasting licence agreement during the ongoing campaign ahead of fresh presidential elections, a warning which has been rebuked by citizens and commentators.

Macra boss Itaye:  Rebuked for cherry-picking and acting as censorship for private media instead of being regulator

In a letter on Tuesday, Macra director general Godfrey Itaye says preliminary assessment of some political broadcasts by Mibawa Television, Times Television (TTV), Times radio, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (radio and TV) indicate breaches contrary to section 22 of the second schedule to the Communications Act, 2016.

“Macra will therefore proceed to submit its report to the Broadcasting Monitoring and Complaints Committee (BMCC) for further action in line with rule 54 of the Communictions (Broadcasting) regulations, 2019,” says Itaye.

He says Macra is concerned with the broadcasting of indecent, insulting and offensive material by broadcasters during the current political campaign meetings.

BMCC comprises Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Macra, Malawi Law Society, Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), National Media Institute for Southern Africa (Namisa), Media Council of Malawi, National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) and the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC).

However, Malawians have angrily reacted in social media platforms, accusing Macra of bias and shielding state broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which recently showed obscene words against state vice president Saulos Chilima.

University of Malawi (Unima) communications and media policy analyst Jimmy Kainja wondered why Macra  is supposed to be an independent body, but it chooses who to punish based on the available regulations and could be working as ” a censorship board in the name of a regulator and that is a serious problem.”

Macra summoned MBC management  to appear before it last Wednesday, May 20  following a complaint filed by lawyers  in conjunction with three civil rights society organizations — Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Church and  Society of the CCAP Livingstonia Synod and Youth and  Society (YAS) that asked to take MBC Television and Radio off-air or they would immediately file for an order in the High Court, compelling the regulator to close the public broadcaster until the professional personnel there at are flushed out and duly replaced.

Itaye has told the petitioners that MACRA could not take off-air MBC Television and Radio as per their demand, as doing so is demanding that the regulator goes against natural justice requirements in its governing laws.

Following the public furore that attracted the offensive broadcast, MBC management suspended the culprits, Henry Haukeya, Mercy Zamawa, Kondwani Chinele and a video editor following public outcry for the use of swearwords against Chilima during a news broadcast on Monday evening and also issued a public apology.

In their petition to MACRA, the four complainants had said MBC “is a creature of Parliament and that its broadcasting licence is statutory, per section 108 of the Communications Act”.

They further said MBC is denying them and the nation at large their right to credible information and it is leading the country astray, yet MACRA does not appear to take any efforts to enforce the Communications Act against MBC.

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Sato
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Sato

MACRA ndi nsabwe yosaona kuti bulangete akukaliyanika padzuwa.

Mtete
Guest

You must have heard about what a wounded animal can do. It will fearlessly charge at anyone knowing it may die anyway. There is your MACRA Management which can break every rule in the book knowing it’s days are numbered.

Dulamizu
Guest
Dulamizu

MACRA the DpP teSticle

Mangochi Kabwafu
Guest
Mangochi Kabwafu

Mbuzi. You will soon be out of work anyway.

Moya
Guest
Moya

Tikuchotsera masiku anu inu

Maunits
Guest
Maunits

That is DPP putting tribes men into position who do not have credentials. Look at what Itaye is doing rubbish. Try to close Zodiak our mother Malawi radio seconded by Times you will chinameta mpala nkhanga. We stopped watching and listening to MBC 2014. It was better during Joice Banda.

monosile
Guest
monosile

Start with MBC if at all you are professional.

Thuko
Guest

Gwilani ntchito a macra times television has become a political channel. No longer fit for purpose. That is not what they applied for in their licence

#NotMyPresident
Guest
#NotMyPresident

MACRA is a DPP stalwart

Weretethe
Guest
Weretethe

Kuyankhula kopusa

Jame Banda
Guest
Jame Banda

A louse has a better brain

Livulezi river
Guest
Livulezi river

I don’t know what constitutes good broadcasting ethics Macra is claiming not to be adhered to by these 3 media houses.
But , from the look of things from my little understanding , it seems that , only Mbc is the one which fulfilling them.
So , in essence, what Macra is telling us is that any media house that does what Malawians want is an enemy of Macra.
That’s very sad dev.

Aabwino
Guest
Aabwino

When a fool is given authority he always abuses it.

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