MISA Malawi has described media self-regulation as key to media freedom and independence.
The Chapter Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said this when MISA Malawi re-launched the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) at Hippo View Lodge in Liwonde on Tuesday, December 31, 2019.
MCM, which is the body responsible for media self-regulation in Malawi, has been dormant for the past three years, a development Ndanga described as a threat to media freedom.
“Absence of a functioning Media Council gives government the impetus to step in and regulate the media. State regulation is a big threat to media independence, media freedom and freedom of expression. This is a big day for media freedom advocates,” Ndanga said.
MISA Malawi started the process of reviving the Council in 2018 to ensure a viable and robust media self-regulation system for the country. The initiative is part of MISA Malawi’s efforts to safeguard media freedom and freedom of expression in the country and the region.
“I am happy to report that we have support from media owners as they have pledged to financially support MCM for the next three years. Media institutions will support the Council with the salary for the Executive Director and other operational costs,”
MCM Chairperson Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa thanked the stakeholders for demonstrating commitment in media-self-regulation.
“The achievement that we have made today should not be seen as an end in itself. It should be seen as a starting point in our fight for media self-regulation,” Professor Chijere Chirwa said.
Director of Information in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology Mzati Nkolokosa said government was ‘sincerely committed’ to see a functioning Media Council.
“This is a big achievement and the revival of the Council was one of the key priorities on my list. I think history will judge us as people who wished the media well. From government, there is indeed a sincere desire to see the media regulating itself,” Nkolokosa said.
MISA Malawi commissioned a study to identify best practices in media self-regulation in the region and beyond and propose a workable model for the sustainability of media self-regulation in Malawi. The process has led to the revival of MCM based on the proposed model.
During the re-launch, Professor Chijere Chirwa officially unveiled Mr Moses Kaufa as the new Executive Director for MCM.
Government, media managers, leaders of media clubs, associations and journalists attended the Council re-launch and provided insights on some of the key strategic pillars MCM should focus on in 2020 and beyond.
MISA Malawi commissioned the study with support from DW Akademie, Germany’s leading organisation for media development.