MACRA to revoke more broadcasting licences due to K9 billion outstanding licence debts
While acknowledging MACRA's legal mandate and broadcasters' statutory obligations, MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga says that a win-win situation on the matter was still required.
Malawi: Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has warned that it will revoke more broadcasting licences due to outstanding licence debts and licensees who have failed to roll out within the specified time frame, from Friday, July 8, 2022, according to a statement by MISA Malawi.
Daud Suleiman, Director General of MACRA, announced this during a breakfast meeting with media executives in Lilongwe on Thursday, July 7, 2022.
MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga stated that one of the issues discussed at the meeting was the K9 billion debts owed to MACRA by operators in the broadcasting, telecommunications, and postal services.
According to MACRA, broadcasters owe the regulatory body approximately K750 million, while telecommunications operators owe the regulatory body approximately K7.5 billion.
These obligations date back to 2014.
"MACRA’s Director-General acknowledged that the debt challenge is a two-way challenge in that, for years, the regulator has not been proactive in following up the debts and some broadcasters have not been fulfilling their statutory obligation i.e. paying license fee," Ndanga said.
While acknowledging MACRA's legal mandate and broadcasters' statutory obligations, Ndanga stated that a win-win situation on the matter was still required.
Ndanga stated that the country's economy is facing several challenges, which are also affecting the media business, and that there is a need to consider broadcasting growth, business interests of owners, and broadcasters' welfare before revoking licences.
Given that MACRA admits to having contributed to the current situation of accumulated debts, the MISA Malawi Chairperson stated that the regulatory body should consult with the concerned broadcasters on how they can settle the debts in instalments over time while developing proper mechanisms for handling licence fee payment in the future. Mr. Suleiman stated that MACRA is open to further discussion on the subject.
Ndanga stated that MISA Malawi remains hopeful that the regulator and broadcasters will work together to resolve this issue in order to foster the growth of a more independent and diverse media industry, which will promote freedom of expression and access to information for the country's citizens.