The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has been advised to be fair and balanced in its coverage as its continued pro-government propaganda despite relying on funds from taxpayers holding divergent political views could cause civil unrest in the run up to May 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Leading daily newspaper, The Nation, in an editorial comment on Thursday advised that radio is a critical medium for desseminatioj of information, and if it is abused, has potential to cause civil unrest.
“It happened in Rwanda. A radio station called Radio Television Libre des Mille Collins was in the forefront broadcasting hate messages that sparked genicide, resulting in the killing of 800 000 people I’m just 100 days in 1994.
“Nobody wants that to happen to Malawi; hence, the need for MBC to be cautious in its programming. Malawi has been known as a peace-loving country,” said the paper in the editorial.
The paper pointed out that MBC, as a public broadcaster, owes its allegiance to the public that funds it through taxes.
“This means whatever it broadcasts has to be of public interest,” said the publication, urging the broadcaster to desist from propagating hate.
During the joint Parliamentary Cluster of Trade and Industry and Media and Communications, the legislators on Wednesday asked the broadcaster to explain why it continues producing pro-government propaganda despite relying on funds from taxpayers holding divergent political views.
The members of Parliament (MPs) faulted MBC for its programmes, some of which directly attack some political leaders, especially from the opposition, who are never given a chance to be heard.
Kasungu East MP Madalitso Kazombo (MCP) asked MBC director general Aubrey Sumbuleta why the broadcaster airs programmes perceived to be bent on provoking some individuals and political groups.
He said: “Why does MBC have programmes like Sapita Kawiri which are not good? What was the aim behind coming up with such programmes? Are such programmes educational or informative? This is not good and there is need for you to change.”
Sumbuleta, who led the MBC team, made commitment to improve coverage perceived to be biased against opposition political parties.
In February this year, MCP reported MBC to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) seeking intervention on alleged biased reporting and programming.
However, Macra, in a letter signed by its director general Godfrey Itaye, dismissed the complaint, asking MCP to lodge its complaint with MBC.
MCP described the Macra response as strange as the institution is mandated to act on media houses that flout provisions of the Communications Act.
In the editorial comment, The Nation, has called on Macra and the Malawi Electoral Commission to play their rightful role by ensuring that MBC operates in line with the tenets of good journalism, which is being fair, objective and balanced.
Civil society organisations have also accused the taxpayer-funded broadcaster of bias and lack of professionalism.
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