Malawi’s public broadcaster guilty of bias in campaign period



The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), a public broadcaster in Malawi has been found guilty of not complying to laid down rules ahead of May 20 tripartite elections in the country forcing the electoral managers to summon its board of directors.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) met with the board of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Friday April 4, 2014 at the Commission’s head office in Blantyre.

MEC says the meeting was held to discuss various concerns and published reports of unfair coverage of contesting political parties during the forthcoming elections and it was observed that MBC has been giving prominence to the ruling party while at the same time marginalizing the opposition political parties.

MEC Chief Elections officer Willie Kalonga said that both parties observed and accepted that the performance of the public broadcaster in ensuring equitable coverage has not been up to standard in many aspects.

“It was agreed by both parties that MBC has not complied with the provisions of its broadcasting licence, the Communications Act and the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act of ensuring equitable access to the political parties.

“The Commission unreservedly condemned the unprofessional conduct of MBC over the two weeks of the campaign and demanded radical changes that would lead to equitable coverage of all contesting political parties,” Kalonga said.

MBC board, according to the Malawi Electoral Commission, committed to undertake immediate changes and reforms that include giving a right to reply on all stories and campaign messages broadcast on radio and television; stop rebroadcasting presidential rallies where the president was campaigning, giving equal airtime for political parties to campaign where the state president has been covered live campaigning.

It is said that the MBC board assured the Commission of immediate structural changes in its coverage of political parties and challenged MEC, political parties, civil society organisations, electoral stakeholders and the public to observe its performance for seven days effective Friday, April 4, 2014.

The assurance has however proved to be fake as on Sunday MBC rebroadcasted the president’s function on radio 1 and it is yet to be seen if people will lodge fresh complaints against the public broadcaster as advised by the Commission that they can do so in the period up to Friday, April 18, 2014.

© 2014, Peter Chipanga. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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