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Minister faces media owners

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High taxes and advertising arrears from government are chocking operations of media houses in the country.

Media owners and managers said this during an interface they had with Minister of Information Gospel Kazako in Blantyre.

Various media house owners and managers, including Times Group’s Managing Director Leonard Chikadya, Nation Publications’ Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alfred Mtonga and John Nthakomwa of Mibawa said these are some of the main problems facing the media today.

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Chikadya said high taxes on broadcasting equipment, advertising fees and Value Added Tax on newspaper cover prices are making information expensive.

“I was expecting that in the budget you would surprise us with tax exemption. Almost everything is being taxed and this is making information expensive. Most of the media houses are in debts and cannot sustain ourselves with the current environment,” he said.

Chikadya then challenged government to look at a long term picture in as far as media is concerned, saying taxing everything today threatens the future of media.

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Mtonga concurred with Chikadya, saying most of the media houses will close the way many newspapers closed shop in the past.

“Taxing advertising fees, cover prices and everything is threatening the future of media in the country. If this is not corrected on time, many televisions stations, radio stations and newspapers will be history,” he said.

In his remarks, Kazako said the issues were not new to him since he has personally been in the media for close to 30 years.

He said he organised the meeting so that together, the media managers and government can find ways of improving the environment in which media houses operate in.

“Advertising arrears with Ministries, Departments and Agencies and taxes have been long standing issues. People have been discussing this but nothing was moving. That’s why it was important that we meet with these media managers and owners so that together, we deal with the problems,” he said.

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