In Malawi, the broadcasting regulator – Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) – has revoked the broadcasting licences of several TV and Radio stations, the latest being Ufulu FM, Ufulu Television and Galaxy FM, for unpaid licence fees. According to MACRA, the broadcasters owe a total of US$72 307 in license fees.
A statement signed by Daud Suleman, MACRA Director General, says Ufulu FM owes MACRA US$26 577, Ufulu Television owes US$17 686, while Galaxy Radio is required to pay US$28 239.
The regulator had given the media houses until 22 August 2022 to settle their debt, but payment has not been made. MACRA says that failure to pay licence fees is a substantial breach of licence conditions.
Last week, MACRA also revoked the content licences of Joy Radio, Sapitwa FM and Capital Radio. In addition, the licences of Angaliba Radio, Angaliba Television, and Rainbow Television were also cancelled by MACRA for similar reasons.
Critics say MACRA’sMACRA’s action against the media houses is drastic considering the current economic conditions under the Lazarus Chakwera administration.
Critics took to social media, saying MACRA needs to reconsider the annual licence fees, as they may be too high.
“I think licence fees are too huge for the local broadcasting industry in the country. In normal circumstances, we can not have all these broadcasting houses closed for similar reasons,” a social media user said.