Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) says it will deal with broadcasters who deliberately ignore their ethics to please their masters as the country drifts towards tripartite elections.
MACRA’s Director of Broadcasting, Fegus Lipenga sounded the warning Tuesday during stakeholders workshop on draft rules on Universal Services Fund (USF) at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.
The purpose of the rules is to provide a regulatory framework for the design and implementation of universal access and service provision for the administration of the USF in Malawi.
In an interview, Lipenga said as the country moves towards tripartite elections, sensational reporting becomes rampant which he said must be checked.
“Some journalists are not even ashamed to air false information and we will not hesitate to deal with that because broadcasting is a regulated market,” said Lipenga.
The Director added that all broadcasters should provide reliable and diversity of broadcasting services in politics to improve the broadcasting industry in the country.
“All broadcasters are liable for what goes on air. Broadcasters who want to behave like politicians must resign and join politics,” Lipenga pointed out.
He informed participants that broadcasting business is capital-intensive in nature, saying it takes years to realize returns on investment. However, according to Lipenga, most people do not realize this.
“Keep on airing informing, educating and entertaining programs to the citizens of Malawi rather than involving yourselves in programs that can cause fracas in the country,” he advised.
However, according to the broadcasting director, all stakeholders support the less privileged people who live in hard-to-reach areas in terms of broadcasting and Information Communication and Technology services.
This is because access to broadcasting services by communities from such areas has remained a challenge for decades.
However, one of the participants, Emily Lungu, acknowledged government for putting in place a legal framework that acts as a catalyst for the promotion of universal service to broadcasting and other ICT services in the rural and underserved areas.
In order to fulfill the mandate of promoting universal access, MACRA has come up with strategic action plan that will help in achieving effective and efficient implementation of the Universal Access programs.
“Malawi as a country continues to struggle to find affordable and sustainable ways to provide widespread access to broadcasting services, other digital devices and broadband connections, especially in rural and remote areas,” said Lungu.
The revised legal framework, thus the Communications Act of 2016 contains provisions for the establishment of the Universal Service Fund (USF). The program will be implemented throughout the country.-MANA