Misa Malawi appeals to MACRA to reconsider revoking licences

Misa Malawi has appealed to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to consider revoking television and radio licences from media houses which owns the regulator.

Misa Malawi made the call on Thursday during the breakfast meeting MACRA had with media managers in Lilongwe.

“One of the issues discussed at the meeting was the issue of the K9 billion debts that operators in the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal services owe MACRA.

Teresa Temweka Ndanga: Media doing its role

“According to MACRA, the broadcasters owe the regulatory body about K750 million while the telecommunications operators have an accumulated debt of about K7.5 billion. These debts date back to 2014,” reads a statement signed by Misa Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga.

While recognising MACRA’s legal mandate and broadcasters’ statutory obligations, MISA she said there was still a need for it to consider their stand in the wake of financial problems.

Ndanga said the country’s economy is facing several challenges which is also affecting the media business hence the need to consider broadcasting growth, business interests of owners and welfare of broadcasters before resorting to revoking licenses.

The MISA Malawi Chairperson said considering that MACRA acknowledges having contributed to the current situation of accumulated debts, there was need for the regulatory body to discuss with the concerned broadcasters on how they can settle the debts in instalments over a period of time while coming up with proper mechanisms for handling payment of license fees in future.

Daud Suleiman said MACRA was open for discussions to resolve the issue.

During the meeting, Suleiman indicated that the regulator will be revoking more broadcasting licenses on Friday, July 8, 2022.

These licenses are for both broadcasters with outstanding license debts and the licensees who have failed to roll out within the specified period.

The MACRA Director-General acknowledged that for years the regulator has not been proactive in following up the debts and some broadcasters have not been fulfilling their statutory obligation i.e. paying license fees.

MISA Malawi remains optimistic that the regulator and the broadcasters will work together to resolve this issue for the growth of a more independent and diverse media industry which will in turn promote freedom of expression and access to information for the country’s citizens.

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