Broadcasting regulators, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) plans to ban media giant Times Group from showing on Times TV a television talk show ‘Hot Current’ on Times TV which is gaining popularity in Malawi as following the ‘truth telling’ discussion which is hosted by marverick broadcaster Brian Banda.
The program which is featuring Times Group Editor-in-Chief George Kasakula is showing brave and substantive journalistic endeavours (often at great personal risk) and discussing matters of current which are hitting headlines, taking government into task on accountability and corruption.
Macra has since summoned Kasakula and Banda as they stand accused of describing President Peter Mutharika of practising nepotism during the recent program.
“The Authority has made a preminary finding that your Hot Current Programm titled ‘The role of people in making the change we need broadcast on 3rd March, 2017 did not comply wth Section 5 (1) of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Services contained in the Third Schedule to the Commjunications Act 1998,” Macra Director General Godfrey Itaye said in a letter to Times TV Station manager seen by Nyasa Times.
Itaye said the said section stipulates that when presenting a program in which controversial issues of public importace are discussed, they TV or Radio should make “reasonable efforts” to present differing points of view in the same programme or in a subsequent program within a reasonable period of time and in substantially the same time slot.
Macra said the ‘Hot Current’ program of 3 Mrach 2017, the presenters Kasakula and Banda made “statement and allagenations of nepotism against the President” and member of his administration.
Reads the letter in part: “ Nepotism and corruption in public office are matter of public interest and you were under an obligation to make reasonable efforts to present points of view on the issues raised.”
The Authority observed that Times TV did not and have not “presented alternative viewd on the matterd, particularly from those alleged to engage in nepotisim and corruption.”
Macra says this was a “failure” to comply with the Times Media obligations under the Code of Conduct for broadcasting service.
Times Group is yet to comment on the matter but the oldest and biggest media group’s relationship with government has always been rocky and icy.
Macra has time and again issued Times Group with threats whilst Malawi Revenue Authority has in the past closed down the media house on pretext of failure to remit tax, a charge denied by the company managing director Leonard Chikadya who has depended on the courts to open the media house.
Brian Banda took it to social media to comment when he posted on his Facebook page: “In the effort of proving his relevance at Macra as Director General , Mr Itaye is actually de-campaigning this government with his threats on independent media.I hope someone in government is watching!#freepressisvital.”
Kasakula is also attracting wrath of those wielding power recklessly, even criminally, with complete impunity and unaccountability as he is putting them on spot with his no holds barred critique.
The program is also shared on YouTube.
Kasakura , who is also columnist in Malawi News, argued that nepotism looks like the government norm.
He urged Malawians not to let mediocrity take charge.
“We need to demand better form our government, this is our government. They rule on our trust. Malawians lets wake up and demand better from our government,” Kasakura said.
Malawi government spokesman Nicholous Dausi said discussions on ‘Hot Current’ Times TV program are “unnecessary irritation”.
“I choose to ignore listening to their gurgling,” said Dausi
He said Kasakura seemed almost emotional in his contributions.
But Times are proving that they aren’t the kind of journalists that go around repeating what the government , they are demonstrating the kind of journalists that believe the way you hold power accountable is by reporting what the truth actually is.
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