Parliamentary Committee on Media, Information and Communications yesterday engaged MultiChoice Malawi and Macra in a bid to resolve the wrangle that has seen MultiChoice Africa Holdings (MAH) withdrawing pay television services in Malawi.
The committee’s intervention followed a fall-out between Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and MAH, which saw the latter on August 8 2023 announcing the withdrawal of digital satellite television (DStv) services from Malawi with immediate effect. The decision came after the High Court of Malawi in Lilongwe issued an injunction in a matter between MultiChoice Malawi and Macra on the adjustment of DStv premiums.
Macra accused the service provider of flouting the law by not informing it about the proposed review.
Yesterday, the committee separately met MultiChoice Malawi, MAH, Ministry of Information and Macra representatives behind closed doors.
In an interview after the meetings, committee chairperson Susan Dossi said they believed that the matter can be settled out of court and that MAH can continue providing DStv services to Malawians.
She said the committee will hold a roundtable meeting for the stakeholders.
Said Dossi: “There is hope and MultiChoice is ready for the roundtable meeting. Macra and Ministry of Information are also ready. So, we are hopeful that DStv services will be back in Malawi.”
She said the committee noted that there were gaps in the Communications Act, but since the matter is still under discussion, she could not reveal more.
On his part, Minister of Information and Digitisation Moses Kunkuyu said government’s interest is to ensure that there is a friendly environment for investors who complement its efforts to ensure citizens are well informed, educated and entertained through the use of services such as DStv.
Said the minister: “As a ministry, we want to see a win-win situation. Where one withdraws from a service like this, there is a loss on their part but there is also a loss on the part of government.”
MultiChoice Malawi corporate affairs manager Zena Makunje said they want to see the matter resolved so that DStv subscribers can continue to enjoy the services.
The firm has contended that it does not provide DStv services, but acts as a subscription management entity which is a customer service for people who subscribe to MAH’s DStv services.
Macra had fined MultiChoice Malawi to pay K19 million licence fees before the DStv services are withdrawn.