Director of Information Gideon Munthali has commended the Malawi Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for reviewing its broadcasting licensing framework, a development that has seen 50 radio stations getting licenses in the country.
Speaking Monday in Mzuzu during commemoration of this year’s World Radio Day, Munthali said the review has eased the way people that want to establish radio stations get licenses.
In the past people would wait for MACRA to put adverts in the media calling upon them to apply for the licences.
“This time MACRA is going to allow people to walk into [their offices] and express interest that they would want to participate in the development of setting up a radio.
“I would like to commend MACRA for making sure that radio finds space in our society. For instance, we are very pleased that MACRA, so far, has licensed 50 radio stations,” Munthali said.
He added that more applicants are on the waiting list to make sure that they get licences.
“This is very commendable because from the 50 radio stations we get the assurance that a lot more people are going to get the information they need; they are going to be served in different ways.
“We, as a society, are going to benefit from the diversity of the programming that is going to come from the 50 radio stations,” Munthali said.
The Malawi National Commission for UNESCO which jointly organized the event with MACRA also hailed the regulatory body for particularly necessitating a conducive environment for the establishment of community radio stations.
“We believe that community radios are an excellent conduit for important information because as they localize national issues, they offer particular geographic areas opportunity to understand the issues more comprehensively,” said the national commission for UNESCO’s Executive Director Emmanuel Kondowe.
He said radio is a valuable channel for passing on information about social and economic issues that the country is grappling with so that people can appreciate and determine ways of dealing with them.
“This is why with the help from UNESCO, the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO has been championing the establishment of community radios,” he said.
During the one political party system of government, Malawi had one radio station, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. The introduction of multiparty system of government in 1993 was followed by establishment of private and community radio stations.
MACRA’s Director of Broadcasting Fergus Lipenga disclosed that it is the regulatory body’s wish to have geographical community radio station in every district of the country.
“Geographical community radios have an impact in the communities because people want to listen to themselves. So we will continue licensing more broadcasters so that messages get across to the public so that they make informed decisions and for the development of the country,” Lipenga said.