Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter, has launched a legal challenge against the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), over the suspension of radio phone-in programs.
In a statement released by MISA Malawi, and signed by its chairperson, Tereza Temweka Ndanga, the media body said it has partnered Times, Zodiak and Capital Radios seeking the Court’s declaration.
MACRA suspended phone-in programs on all broadcasters on June 7, 2019, and has not changed its position on the matter despite several attempts by the Chapter and media outlets to amicably resolve the issue.
Reads part of the statement: “The Chapter would like to inform the membership that it has decided to seek the High Courts’ intervention over the decision by MACRA to suspend phone-in programs because the decision 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 matter was filed at the High Court, Lilongwe Registry, on September 2, 2019.
The Court has set aside September 16, 2019 to hear the application for a temporary injunction stopping MACRA from implementing the decision pending a final (or other) decision of the Court.
“It remains our hope that MACRA will share our intention of amicably resolving the matter without resorting to litigation and 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,” concludes the statement.
On June 7, 2019 MACRA suspended radio phone-in programs in the country on the basis that some broadcasting houses were careless and unethical on issues concerning the 21 May elections.