Macra under fire over MBC

Clara Ngwira

Pressure is piling on the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) over the alleged unprofessional conduct of public broadcaster Malawi Corporation (MBC) which used swearwords against Vice-President Saulos Chilima in its news bulletin.

During the 7 p.m. Chichewa news bulletin on Monday, MBC Television beamed a screenshot of Facebook comments from its Facebook page with vulgar language targeted at Chilima.

Following the development, lawyer Nicely Msowoya and some civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country have moved to call Macra to take MBC off air, further threatening legal action against the regulatory body.


Through their lawyer George Kadzipatike, Msowoya, Youth and Society (Yas), Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Church and Society Programme of the Livingstonia Synod complain that what MBC did was violating their right to credible information.

“Our clients have noted that MBC has gone overboard in contravening its statutory duties under the Communications Act… MBC is denying our clients and the nation at large their right to credible information and it is leading the country astray, yet Macra does not appear to enforce legislation against it…,” reads part of the demand letter.

Macra spokesperson Clara Ngwira denied that the regulator has been lenient on MBC.


Msowoya, who confirmed the action in a subsequent interview Tuesday, demanded that MBC Television and Radio should be suspended form broadcasting up to May 15 this year, arguing the channels have perpetually contravened the Communications Act in their general conduct.

“If MBC is not taken off air by Friday May 15, we shall immediately file for an order in the High Court, compelling Macra to close MBC until the unprofessional personnel thereat are flushed out and duly replaced,” the statement adds.

While refusing to comment on the demand letter, Ngwira said as a regulator, Macra regrets MBC’s conduct.

“As Macra we will accordingly invoke our regulatory powers and ensure that necessary action is taken against MBC. We have a seven day period for them to respond to the cases against them and we will call them to a hearing,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi Chapter and the Media Council of Malawi have in separate statements called for action against MBC from Macra and the Parliamentary Committee on Media and Communications.

There has so far been no immediate comment from MBC, save for a public apology issued through their Facebook page and TV.

Minister of Information Mark Botomani indicated he could not comment on the specific matter but said government is championing fair election reporting.

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