Court adjourns Phone-in radio programs injunction case

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By Timothy Kachedwa 

The Lilongwe High Court has adjourned a case in which media organisations are seeking an injunction against the ban on phone-in radio programs.

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority-MACRA placed the ban, applicable to all broadcasters, citing what was described as unprofessional conduct by some.

Media organisations, including MISA Malawi chapter have described the ban as an infringement on the right to freedom of expression.

The government, through information minister Mark Botoman has however responded that freedoms have limits, and that the ban seeks to bring sanity.

Broadcasters, Zodiak, Times Radio and Capital FM, in partnership with MISA have since applied for an injunction against the ban.

After hearing the arguments for the lawyers in the case on Monday 16th September 2019, Judge Robert Chinangwa made several recommendations that would be crucial in coming up with his ruling on the matter.

“We argued before the court and what the court has asked us to do is to provide it with copies of judgment where something similar has been done before by our court in the country or elsewhere,” said John Suzi-Banda, the Lawyer representing MISA Malawi Chapter.

The court also asked MACRA to provide a list of what could call the alleged offending radio station

“What was on court file, was only two radio stations, but there over 80 radio stations in Malawi, so the court wanted to find out whether it’s only those two and if there are more, why MACRA has only given those two,” Suzi Banda said.

 “We have to bring more materials on compliance rate of radios in terms of their prescriptions in their licence whether there are adhering to their conditions in the licence or not,” said Lawyer representing MACRA Kingsley Mapemba.

Judge Chinangwa has given the MACRA team a timeframe to be able to file the other information with is said to not have been filed in the first place.

“We have that data compiled and will bring it to the court in 48 hours and then the court will make a decision,” Mapemba added.

The Judge is expected to deliver his ruling on the temporally Injunction matter on Friday September 20th.

The hearing of the main judicial review matter will commence on 15th October.

 

 

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