The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has shut down Joy Radio Station with immediate effect after revoking its licence for what it called ‘breaching its licence conditions’.
According to communication hand delivered by a senior MACRA official to the offices of the radio, the broadcaster has been breaching Communications Act by transferring ownership of the radio into the hands of a politician.
Former President Bakili Muluzi owns the radio and according to Section 44 of the Act, no politician or a group of a political party shall be given a broadcasting licence to operate a radio.
“Initially, when the radio was issued with a broadcasting licence it was owned by different people but by and by the ownership started shifting and ended up into the hands of politicians,” said acting Director General of MACRA James Chimera.
Chimera who is a former broadcaster himself said they had been constantly warning the radio but it never took heed.
However, Joy Radio Management Coordinator Joseph Chapuma said they had been complying with directives to change some things, which MACRA ordered them to improve on.
“For four weeks now we have not been broadcasting programmes that were viewed politically biased following their directive, but MACRA has nonetheless decided to revoke our licence,” he said.
The radio, which went off air at exactly 18 hours on Friday, says it has engaged its lawyers to challenge the decision by MACRA.
Relationship between MACRA and Joy radio has been sour for sometime now. Early this year the regulatory body also shutdown Joy Television for operating without proper legislation.