The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has revoked the radio broadcasting licence for Mulhakho wa Alhomwe citing failure by the Lomwe tribal grouping to meet its roll out obligations.
In a statement issued yesterday, Macra said it invoked its powers to revoke the licence effective May 30 this year after the Mulhakho Radio failed to roll-out its operations in accordance with an extension agreement it made with Macra in December last year.
According to the statement, signed by Macra’s chairperson Martha Kwataine and director general Charles Nsaliwa, Mulhakho Radio got the licence in December 2011. The radio later applied and was granted a six-month extension of roll out period from August 2012 to January 2013, but still failed to roll out and asked for a further eight-month extension from January to August 2013.
Reads part of the statement: “Macra invited Mulhakho Radio to a meeting to make presentations and justify their application for further extension. At the meeting the radio cited difficulties in sourcing forex for procurement of their broadcasting equipment. Macra, therefore, requested [the radio] to furnish backing documentation in support of their assertions in form of forex bank application letters and any other relevant documentation.
“To date Mulhakho Radio has failed to roll out in accordance with the extension agreement or furnish relevant documentation on the lack of from 30th May 2013.”
But Macra board minutes which Weekend Nation has seen, the regulatory authority took the decision to revoke the licence in January this year.
During the meeting, held on January 16, members of the board were informed that the Mulhakho Radio was granted the six-month extension despite Macra’s audit findings indicating that the group could not manage to launch the radio station within the requested six months.
“Members were then informed that management’s technical audit on Mulhakho wa Alhomwe Radio revealed that there was no sufficient progress for them to meet their roll out obligations for their radio service within the extension period that they were granted,” reads the board minutes.
The minutes further indicate that Macra met Mulhakho wa Alhomwe officials on their second request in December last year where the authority demanded that the group submits convincing justification for their second request.
Apart from furnishing the authority with convincing reasons for requesting a further eight-month extension, Macra also requested the group to provide evidence that their bank, Malawi Savings Bank (MSB), was indeed processing the group’s application for forex to pay their radio equipment supplier.
“Members were informed that Mulhakho wa Alhomwe have not submitted the above requested information to date. Members have agreed to reject Mulhakho wa Alhomwe’s request for an eight-month extension of the licence, thereby revoking their licence.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the board of Macra that the request for eight months extension of rolling out period from 16 January 2013 to 16 August 2013 is rejected [and] that Mulhakho wa Alhomwe Radio licence is hereby revoked,” read the minutes.
The resolution was ratified and adopted by Macra’s board members on March 14 2013.
Macra communications officer Clara Mulonya said Macra is currently handling requests from other licensees to extend their broadcasting roll out periods.
“Apart from Mulhakho, there are other licensees that have asked for extensions at the moment. But should their extensions expire without rolling out, they will be treated the same way as has been the case with Mulhakho wa Alhomwe,” said Mulonya.
Mulhakho board chairperson Bright Mangulama refused to comment on the matter on Thursday, saying the group has not received any communication from Macra on the revocation of their radio licence.
“I have not been advised on that issue and, therefore, I cannot comment,” said Mangulama.