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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

European Union right on Macra, MBC

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Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has for a long time been accused of biased reporting prior to elections.

This happens as Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) watches.

Ironically, Macra has been whipping broadcasting houses adjudged to be reporting negatively about a ruling party or its leader, in disguise of exercising its regulatory powers. It is too quick to act on what it views as misconduct of private media houses while giving a blind eye to the same actions by MBC.

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Calls by The European Union (EU) election follow up mission to Malawi that the two public institutions must be freed should be taken seriously.

Powers-that-be must, this time, listen. Why is it difficult to change? We know that every ruling party wants to advance its agenda through the public broadcaster. This worsens during election time.

It is sad that in an era of the much touted democracy, MBC is suffocating the same system of government by not opening up to all political players. Even within the ranks and files of a ruling party, when things go awry, a blackout is imposed on those believed not to be serving the interests of a leader or senior members of a ruling party.

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All this happens as Macra watches. Macra and MBC have professionals. They know what is right and what is wrong. It is a clear case of them not wanting to bite the finger that feeds them.

It is only after the two institutions are fully freed that the complaints that have been there will be a thing of the past.

After 2009 elections, the EU observed that there was State media bias during the elections. The same observations were made in the EU observer mission report of 2014 elections. In 2009, it was Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that went to the elections as a party in power. In 2014, it was the People’s Party.

From the trend, it is clear that the DPP will also use the same tactics in 2019. MBC is powerless to stop that. The same applies to Macra.

As recommended by the EU Electoral Observer Mission follow-up team, there is a need to enforce the law which provides for fair and balanced electoral coverage.

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