MACRA Warns Broadcasters

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has asked broadcasters to comply with the obligation of submitting audited accounts annually to avoid having their licenses revoked.

MACRA’s technical advisor on digital migration, Benson Tembo made the appeal Thursday in Mzuzu when the regulatory authority briefed broadcasters in the northern region on the introduction of the Universal Services Fund (USF).

“It is a requirement by license that each and every broadcaster sends in audited accounts at the end of each year so that we know exactly whether they are providing the services and making ends meet.

In fact, this USF requires that they give in a levy to the fund. So the levy can only be determined by what is in the audited accounts because it is one percent of their gross revenue,” Tembo said.

He, therefore, said it would be difficult to determine the percentage if a broadcaster did not submit audited accounts.

“So it is important to submit; and, should broadcasters not comply with this obligation, MACRA will not hesitate to revoke their license,” he said.

Tembo explained that the USF will make sure that all areas including the remotest access ICT, telecommunication, postal and courier services.

“You know there are some areas where it is difficult to get radio or television signals. So this fund is going to help look at all those areas and then provide the services to those areas,” he said.

He explained that after conducting research into the needs of a particular area such as transmitters, and access roads, the fund will be used to provide those needs.

“In fact, the universal services fund will work to the advantage of the operators themselves,” Tembo said.

Acting managing director for Karonga-based Radio Dinosaur Alexander Mhango said the levy is a welcome idea because it is in the interest of the broadcasters.

The USF is provided for in the revised Communications Act of 2016 to curb the struggle for affordable and sustainable ways of providing information especially in rural and remote areas.-MANA