Capital FM on Sunday became the latest broadcaster to switch off its transmission over a licence fees feud with Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) despite settling the outstanding amount.
Internal communication from the station’s management issued on Saturday indicated that the move was in compliance with Macra’s directive on August 19 2022 which ordered for the switching off of transmission yesterday due to the licence revocation.
Capital FM said it had paid the outstanding debts to Macra and asked for a waiver as well as making a fresh licence application.
Capital FM business manager Edward Kaliya yesterday declined to comment, but indicated that jobs would not be affected since its website and other social media platforms will still be active.
In a separate interview yesterday, Macra director general Daud Suleman said despite Capital Radio Malawi writing the regulator asking for an extension, there is no law or regulation that would facilitate such.
He said a fresh licence applica t ion will be reviewed and assessed by the Macra board on October 24 2022.
Suleman said: “Capital Radio paid its debts outside the valid period, therefore, they do not have a licence and cannot broadcast. All datelines were duly communicated and agreed by both parties, Macra and Capital Radio, and it was everyone’s expectation that each party plays its part.
“The initial 30-day period for Capital Radio to cease and desist from broadcasting is today [yesterday] and the authority expects that the station respects that obligation.”
Besides Capital Radio, other radio and television stations that have had their licences revoked include Rainbow Televis ion, Angaliba Television, Ufulu Television, Sapitwa FM, Joy Radio, Ufulu FM and Galaxy FM.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter and Media Council of Malawi estimates that 250 full-time jobs will be affected due to the closure of the television and radio stations.
But Suleman yesterday said Macra is not shutting down media houses, but simply executing its regulatory role in the sector to ensure that applicable laws are respected and followed.
In her presentation during a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Media, Information and Communications at parliament Building in Lilongwe on September 13 2022, Misa Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga said the media business is more than profit-oriented as it facilitates other constitutionally enshrined freedoms and rights.
In the presentation, she said while Macra is basing the revocations on Section 6 of the 2016 Malawi Communications Act, it is important to note that the same Section mandates the regulatory body to develop the sector.
However, Minister of Information and Digitisation Gospel Kazako on Sunday said Capital Radio will resume its broadcasting tomorrow.
“We are doing all we can to ensure the regulator works towards creating a conducive environment for the sector to grow within the laws,” he said.
Capital FM was the second privately owned commercial radio station to be launched in the country on March 29 1999 following the freeing of the airwaves. It is an adult contemporary English radio station.