By Feston Malekezo:
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has prohibited media houses from carrying out any live broadcast with immediate effect, as regulations provides that no broadcaster shall conduct a live broadcast without the aid of a delay machine.
A statement by Macra released Tuesday says Information and Communications Minister promulgated the Communications [broadcasting] Regulations of 20I9 effective June 28 20I9.
“Pursuant to this provision, you are hereby prohibited from carrying out any live broadcast until you are in compliance with this provision,” the statement reads.
The announcement was made when media houses were conducting live coverage of Tuesday’s anti-Jane Ansah nationwide demonstrations calling for the Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson’s resignation.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)-Malawi Chapter Chairperson, Tereza Ndanga, argued that the directive sounds like an ambush.
Ndanga queried why Macra did not communicate in time about the new regulations so that media houses would prepare and have all necessary equipment instead of rushing with the ban.
“Secondly, there is an existing ban on phone-in programmes and now they are talking about live coverage. What does this mean? Is the first ban still in existence? Thirdly, they have to be clear on what they mean when the say live coverage because news is also live broadcast. If they are not careful really Macra would end up finding itself without a broadcaster to regulate,” he said.
Ndanga has, however, said Misa-Malawi would engage media houses and Macra to resolve the matter.
There was no immediate comment from Macra.
In June 2019, Macra suspended all phone-in programmes on all local radio stations, citing unethical and careless reporting of post-election events.
Macra accuses some broadcasters of airing material that has potential to incite masses into violence.