90% of radios risk losing broadcasting license – MACRA

Written by  Mc Donald Gondwe

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority -MACRA will start punishing broadcasting houses  which fail to submit their annual audited accounts to the regulatory body as mandated by the law.

At the Macra Conference At the Macra Conference

The action which is part of the devised Universal Service Fund Rules, a new concept in the Communications Act follows an increase in number of media houses failing to oblige to the call.

Briefing stakeholders in Mzuzu on the Universal Service Fund Rules,MACRA Technical Advisor for Digital Migration, Benson Tembo said currently the default rate is at 90 percent of the 86 broadcasters in the country.

“It is a license obligation for each and every broadcaster to provide their audited account to MACRA every year, which many do not, but we are hoping that broadcasters will see the need to provide the said accounts to MACRA so that they can also benefit from this fund.

“This helps us to know exactly how they are providing the service and whether they are making ends meet, in fact this fund requires every broadcaster to give a levy to a fund and the levy will only be determined if media institutions provide the audited accounts,” said Tembo.

Tembo added that should any broadcaster act to the contrary, MACRA will revoke of their license.

This is also in recognition of ensuring media operate as a business which must work in tandem with the economies of scale for survival.

The Fund is created to ensure that telecommunication, postal and courier as well as broadcasting services are prolific in the country.

Among others if some areas are receiving poor radio or television signal, the Fund will be able to look into those issues and improve where necessary.

Stakeholders at the meeting hailed MACRA for the innovations to the sector while describing the defaulters as unfortunate development.

“This Fund is a very good element because it will help guarantee the availability of signal all over the country, it is however surprising that other institutions were defaulting to provide the audited reports to MACRA; why default when it is the same action that helps determine media growth in the country,” observed Alexander   Mhango, Acting Managing Director for Radio Dinosaur in Karonga.

The Universal Service Fund Rules are expected to be operational by end this year.

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