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Macra ready to whip broadcasters

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The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) is this month expected to launch an Election Broadcasting Complaints Committee which will be mandated to handle all election-related complaints from political parties and individuals contesting in the 2019 tripartite elections.

Macra Director General, Godfrey Itaye, said the committee would help in reprimanding broadcasters who will be found guilty of violating best practices ahead of the forth coming tripartite elections, scheduled for May 2019.

Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of this year’s commemoration of the World Radio Day in Mangochi, Itaye said Macra is working on meeting all broadcasters to remind them of the importance of adhering to broadcasting ethics as one way of ensuring that there is no broadcaster that is promoting negativity.

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“We will not do this job alone. We usually have the Elections Broadcasting Complaints Committee whose responsibility is to look into complaints by political players in relation to broadcasting. The committee is composed of prominent people representing independent organisations in the country,” Itaye said.

Malawi Law Commission, Media Council of Malawi and Centre for Multiparty Democracy are part of the committee which is chaired by the Malawi Electoral Commission.

“But we want to emphasise self-censorship by the broadcasters during the election period because we do not want to be seen to be targeting some broadcasters that are deliberately forgetting their duties. Self-censorship is very important,” Itaye said.

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Earlier, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Assistant Executive Secretary, Christopher Magomero, urged broadcasters to use radio messages to spark listerners’ interest in important issues.

Magomero said, elsewhere, radio stations have been sources of conflicts that have led to loss of lives.

Malawi has been commemorating World Radio Day since 2014. This year, the commemoration was held under a theme ‘Radio and Sports’ which, according to Unesco, was aimed at encouraging radio stations to showcase the beauty of sports in its diversity.

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