…DPP riding on MACRA to punish local media
Weeks after President Peter Mutharika accused private owned Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) of lying about his health, the radio now faces the possibility of losing its licence after the broadcast media regulator found that the media house breached licence conditions.
The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has disclosed that Zodiak breached some sections of the Communication Act for broadcasting the controversial issue raised by the outspoken legislator Kamlepo Kalua during a Views Triangle program that also featured the then government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati.
In the program, Kalua claimed that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had a hand in the death of Polytechnic Student Robert Chasowa.
Kalua added that the DPP’s political partner United Democratic Front (UDF) also had a hand in the death of local musician Evison Matafale and Chancellor College student Fanikiso Phiri.
But after calling Zodiak to explain its stand on the issue, MACRA has ruled that the issues raised by Kalua were not supposed to be for public consumption arguing that the expression could have caused prejudice of the public order as per section 2 of the code of conduct.
In a statement, MACRA has also accused Zodiak of broadcasting dishonest expressions by the Rumphi East legislator arguing that Kalua’s remarks have not been proven to be true and were made in bad faith.
The authority has also faulted Zodiak for not giving the DPP a chance to respond to Kalua’s remarks.
“Section 5 of the code of conduct requires broadcasters, when presenting a controversial issue of public importance, to make reasonable efforts to present points of view in the same programme or in a subsequent program within a reasonable period of time and the authority has found that Zodiak Broadcasting Station did not afford the DPP an opportunity to respond to the allegations by Hon Kalua within a reasonable time,” reads part of the statement.
Meanwhile, MACRA is expected to make further decisions on the issue.