Malawi Govt pledges to transform MBC into real public broadcaster

Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu has assured Malawians to witness transformed Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television and radio stations from being a tool for advancing party and state propaganda to a public service broadcaster come December this year.

The minister made the declaration during a Sunday Round Table discussion aired on Capital FM radio following massive condemnation from most Malawians who contributed to the programme through phone-in.

Most contributors to the programme expressed disapproval of MBC urging that it was not working independently as it is motivated by political wills of those in government, in this case the Peoples Party (PP) instead of serving the interests of the public.

Panelists to the programme that included Ephraim Munthali, Nation on Sunday editor and award winning ‘Cut the Chuff ‘ columnist, Kunkuyu and the anchor Timothy Kateta, were examining how Malawian journalists have performed their work during the past few months.

Kunkuyu: MBC to transform
Kunkuyu: MBC to transform

The discussions gave a room to listeners, who most of them said, private radios as well as newspapers have done a recommendable job as compared to the public broadcasters.

Most callers to the programme commended private radio stations and newspapers for their independence by bringing to the public what was happening in the country.

“I must commend most private radio stations as well as newspapers that they have done us proud and we have been aware of the happenings in this country through their good work. But what we see on MBC TV as well as what we hear on MBC radios 1 and 2 make no difference with the past performances.

“Though, government officials claim these stations have brought a difference as compared to the past when all programmes aired on these channels were politically motivated, I feel there is still a long way to go because there has not been any improvement in as far as independence is concerned,” said one caller to the programme.

But making his contribution while defending what is supposed to be the public broadcaster (MBC), Kunkuyu assured Malawians that the broadcasting station, which is primarily used to promote the interests of the ruling party, would transform by December 2013.

“I am telling you that come December this year, you will witness another TV and another radio 1 and 2. We have managed to come up with the resources that will help government enable MBC to operate independently and as a public broadcaster by that period,” promised Kunkuyu.

The minister however joined other contributors in appreciating the good work being performed by the private media in the country.

“You, the private media, have made us good leaders and we appreciate your good works. But I must assure you that we have had meetings pertaining to the operations of the public broadcaster that include the TV, radio 1 and 2,” he said.

In his input, Munthali said it was the duty of the media to make sure that every story produced has context.

“We, journalists, do not create stories but we always make sure that our stories are with context. We are not out there to hummer someone but to make sure that there is transparency and accountability in what we present to the public,” he stated.

Munthali also observed that today’s journalism has kind of quality due to democracy as well as technology advancement that have seen many journalists getting trained in particular areas as compared to the years before democracy.

“There has been steady journalism since Malawi attained democracy. I must recommend the Joyce Banda administration for the important steps it took when it came into power, for example, removing some bad laws like section 46 that barred journalists to do their work freely.

“But I believe government can do more as it is also our understanding that media freedoms cannot be absolute. It is also our concern as media that where there is unethical, unprofessionalism, our staff should be condemned at all costs,” said Munthali.

Misa Malawi Chapter chairperson Anthony Kasunda said at the media gala dinner on Saturday that it also desires to see MBC serving interests of all Malawians and appealed for a speedy process of enacting the Access to Information law.

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