Media war ensues in Malawi

A media war has ensued between Malawi media and its regulator, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) over the later’s decision to suspend Radio phone-in programs.

MACRA suspended phone-in programs on all broadcasters on 7th June 2019, and has not changed its position on the matter despite several attempts by the Chapter and media outlets to amicably resolve the issue.

The media regulatory body claimed the phone-in programs were encouraging people to participate in the protests.

The media through its mother body, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter has since decided to seek the High Courts’ intervention on the matter.

Tereza Ndanga , the Misa Malawi Chairperson says the Chapter has partnered the country’s Times Media Group, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Capital Radio Malawi, seeking the Court’s declaration that the decision of MACRA violates constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press, among other rights, and that the procedure followed in making the decision was improper as no consultations were made with affected parties as required by law.

She says the matter was filed at the High Court, Lilongwe Registry, on 2nd September 2019.

“The Court has set aside 16th September 2019 to hear the application for a temporary injunction stopping MACRA from implementing the decision pending a final (or other) decision of the Court.

“It remains our hope that MACRA will share our intention of amicably resolving the matter without resorting to litigation. We believe that, with the collaboration of all players in the media, we can as a nation create an environment that fosters healthy debate among citizens while at the same time ensuring that media houses remain true to their responsibility of maintaining expected standards,” says Ndanga in a press statement.

Media, social and rights activists condemned the decision by MACRA, describing it as retrogressive to freedom of the press.

Wanangwa Tembo, a media lecturer at Mzuzu University, asked the media to demonstrate its anger by holding national wide protests against the decision.

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