The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter has launched a legal challenge against the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority – MACRA’s decision to ban phone-in programs.
MISA Malawi says it has decided to seek the intervention of the High Court over the matter since MACRA’s position on the issue has not changed despite several attempts by the Chapter and media outlets to amicably resolve the issue.
The regulatory body banned the phone-in programs in June saying some broadcasters were unethical and careless on issues concerning the disputed May 21 elections hence would likely fuel violence across the country.
In a statement on Tuesday, MISA Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga said the media body filed the matter at the High Court in Lilongwe on 2nd September.
She added that the media body wants the court to find that the decision of MACRA violates constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press, among other rights, and that the procedure followed in making the decision was improper as no consultations were made with affected parties as required by law.
The Court has since set aside 16th September, 2019 to hear the application for a temporary injunction stopping MACRA from implementing the decision pending a final (or other) decision of the Court.
Meanwhile, Ndanga has expressed hope that MACRA will agree to resolve the matter without resorting to litigation.
“We believe that, with the collaboration of all players in the media, we can as a nation create an environment that fosters healthy debate among citizens while at the same time ensuring that media houses remain true to their responsibility of maintaining expected standards,” she said.