Malawi: Digital Migration - All TV Stations to Graduate Into National Broadcasters

Regulation & Policy

The media community in Mogadishu concluded, at a debate held on July 18, 2013, organized by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), that the contents and the manner of preparation of the draft Law on Media proposed by the Government were utterly unacceptable.

More than 30 media representatives coming from radio stations, television network operators, newspaper and international news organisations expressed their objections to the proposed draft law and raised the question whether there is a need for such a repressive law on media in Somalia.

As noted in the discussions, the draft Law goes well beyond the area of broadcasting media, the only media sector traditionally licenced by a legal system, and pushes the media and the journalists further into self-censorship. National Media Council is not independent and journalists will have to disclose their confidential sources and while representatives and journalists working for foreign media are discriminated.

The draft law met unanimous condemnation of the meeting and it was termed another attempt against the freedom of expression and media.

“The media community has taken a unified position on this draconian and repressive draft law on media” said Mohamed Bashir Hashi, Chair of NUSOJ Branch in Mogadishu and Editor of Radio Shabelle. “This draft has a lot of problems and we cannot accept it”.

The Mogadishu media representatives called on the Federal Government to amend this severely restrictive bill, thus reaffirming the government’s commitment to media freedom and freedom of expression.

Parliamentarians who attended this meeting were informed that the draft law is an affront to the Constitution of Somalia, and the parliament was called on to reject the current draft. The draft fails to categorically state that it is an amendment to December 2007 Media Law thus raising the question of where is the amendment of December 2007 media law.

Mogadishu Media representatives expressed their preparedness to engage dialogue with the government and parliament to organize an active, inclusive and open process of consultations to come forward with a proposal for amendments to the existing draft media legislation that would best respond to the needs of a free media.

Source: National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), 19 July 2013.2 title + story - Malawi: Digital Migration - All TV Stations to Graduate Into National Broadcasters

The advent of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is expected to make all television stations in the country 'national broadcasters,' it has been established.

An official from Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority's (Macra) Communications Department, Blessings Phumisa disclosed this in response to a Malawi News Agency (Mana) question on whether (Macra) would put deliberate measures to ensure equal television license distribution to all the three regions of the country.

Currently Malawi has five operational television stations out of which four are based in the southern region while one, African Bible College Television is in the central region.

"All television broadcasters shall have a national coverage regardless of where they are located in the digital broadcasting era meaning that the location of a broadcaster won't matter once we migrate," said Phumisa.

He added that once the country migrates to DTT, television stations will not be involved in distributing their own signal as it has been the case with analogue saying a company responsible for signal distribution will be set up at national scale. "Television broadcasters will only be responsible for content production which will be relayed by the signal distributor who shall have a national network," added Phumisa.

Digital Migration Coordinator in the ministry of Information, Denis Chirwa said the designing of the national distribution network looked at a long term project where in future the country may have some broadcasters in all regions.

He indicated that the national signal distributor's Main Head End will be based in Lilongwe with sub head ends in the Central and Northern region.

"The other regions will have Regional Terminal points to receive signals for broadcasters in the other regions," Chirwa said adding that the plan was put in place to ensure easy maintenance of the network.

In total, Macra has so far licensed 16 television stations out of which eight nonoperational ones are based in the Central Region while four of the same nature, are in the southern region. Government has contracted Huawei Technologies, a Chinese company to steer Malawi's switch over to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) by November this year.