Malawi broadcasting experts apply for radio licence

Malawi’s broadcasting experts James Chimera, Henry Chirwa and Verson Idi, among others are planning to set up a new radio station that will focus on educational programmes. The radio station, which will be known as Matindi Broadcasting Station (MBS), is expected to hit the airwaves on 1 December 2009 subject to issuance of a broadcasting licence by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).

Mr Chimera, who is Director General of the radio station, told The Daily Times newspaper that they had already applied for a licence. “Our plans are to operate a radio station with 100 percent education programmes. We hope that our license will be issued in good time so that we are on air come 1 December 2009,” he said.

Mr Chimera further said the radio will reach out to many students especially in rural areas who miss out on classes. He is a former employee with the state-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) with about 23 years experience in broadcasting. The veteran broadcasting expert also served as Director of Broadcasting at MACRA.

Another veteran, Henry Chirwa, formerly of MBC, is the new station’s Director of Programmes while Verson Idi who also worked at MBC for many years, is Director of News and Current Affairs. Martin Chirwa, a former MBC engineer with 25 years experience in radio station maintenance will be Director of Engineering.

MACRA issues licences to eligible organizations and individuals only when there are vacancies. When contacted for comment on when MBS had applied for a radio license, MACRA’s Acting Director of Broadcasting, Kelton Masangano told MISA-Malawi that the regulatory body was still scrutinizing applications for licenses which they received in May 2009, including that of MBS.

“It’s unfortunate they (MBS) rushed to the media before they were granted the licence. What would happen in the event that they are not granted the licence? All applications go through processes where they get scrutinized,” he said.

About 25 broadcasters have been granted licences by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) since the Authority was established in 1998. The country has 21 radio and 4 Television stations.