Malawi media landscape

There are currently 61 electronic and print media operating in Malawi. The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) lists 34 operational broadcasting licensees, 43 non-operational and 1 revoked licence bringing the total of those with broadcasting licences to 77. MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) Malawi lists 34 radio and seven television stations as operational in the electronic media category and puts print media at 20. The MISA Malawi list, which is said to contain the latest updated MACRA figures, is further broken down as follows:

June 19th, 2014

There are currently 61 electronic and print media operating in Malawi. The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) lists 34 operational broadcasting licensees, 43 non-operational and 1 revoked licence bringing the total of those with broadcasting licences to 77. MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) Malawi lists 34 radio and seven television stations as operational in the electronic media category and puts print media at 20. The MISA Malawi list, which is said to contain the latest updated MACRA figures, is further broken down as follows:

  • Two (2) State owned radio stations
  • Nine (9) Community radio stations
  • 10 Privately owned radio stations with national reach
  • 13 Community religious radio stations
  • Seven (7) Television stations
  • Two (2) Government newspapers
  • 13 Privately owned newspaper with the Blantyre Newspapers Limited and Nations Publications Limited owning five and four titles respectively under each media house. The remaining four are community and religious publications. The dailies are The Nation and The Daily Times.
  • Five (5) magazines, mostly religious.

Section 36 of the Malawi Constitution states that the press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information. Additionally, Section 35 states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.

However, Malawian media, like media in many other African countries, faces numerous challenges to run their houses successfully despite the explicit provisions in the constitution guaranteeing their freedoms. They are affected by the absence of resources although at times this is just an excuse not to walk the extra mile and do what is right for audiences and readers.

While there are a few beacons of region-wide journalistic excellence, these have been affected by a static professional culture which promotes dependence on political power to work.

In the Malawi tripartite elections, little attention was paid to the local government elections, in fact research done by the MMP shows that only 1% of the news made it in the media. It was a common feature that journalists were taken to various rural areas by presidential candidates keen to win favourable coverage. While this conduct by the politicians enabled the journalists to be exposed to more information about the election it does raise questions about the influence politicians exert over the objectivity of journalists. If journalists participate in such operations they should exercise particular care to observe matters critically and recognise the intentions of the politicians. In fact it would be advisable for journalists to state upfront who sponsored the trip.

Contacts

  • 1 Hood Avenue/148 Jan Smuts; Rosebank, GP 2196; South Africa
  • T. +27 (0)11 587 5000
  • F. +27 (0)11 587 5099