Posted by: africanpressorganization | 9 March 2010

MISA-Malawi petitions president Mutharika on government’s ban from advertising in private media





MISA-Malawi petitions president Mutharika on government’s ban from advertising in private media



LILONGWE, Malawi, March 9, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — MISA-Malawi has issued an appeal to the country’s president Bingu wa Mutharika to intervene on reports that government departments have been given a directive to stop advertising with some private media houses in the country, among them, Nation Publications Limited (NPL), publishers of The Nation, Weekend Nation, Nation On Sunday and Fuko.


The appeal was made in a press statement issued by the institution on 4 March 2010 signed by its National Chairperson, Brian Ligomeka. MISA-Malawi’s monitoring revealed that government has stopped advertising with some print and electronic media houses and no reason has been given for the withdrawal.


MISA-Malawi has described this development as shocking. Part of its statement reads, “This development has come at a time when media houses in the country have demonstrated that they are government’s true partners by contributing to national development through their core professional work and through their various social responsibility programs”.


The statement follows a press release by NPL on 3 March 2010, which claimed that government institutions that had booked adverts in its papers started pulling them out without any reasons. NPL further claimed in its statement that its reporters were denied access to public information by being barred from attending government functions without being given reasons for such actions.


Part of NPL’s statement reads, “We have always emphasized that should any individual or institution including the Government have any complaints on the contents and presentation contained in our publications, they should write us or the Media Council of Malawi (MCM)”.


MISA Malawi is therefore appealing to all government and parastatal officials not to ban any journalist from covering government functions describing the practice as retrogressive and a clear violation of press freedom. 


“MISA Malawi would like the State President to intervene in this issue, because much as we are aware that government has its preferences when it comes to choosing which media organizations to advertise with, the reality in the commercial media industry is that advertising is the life blood of every vibrant private media institution and we fear that governments’ directive will cripple the operations of the affected media houses” reads part of the MISA-Malawi statement.


Government’s move to stop advertising with some private media in the country comes against a background of accusations by the state on NPL, claiming that the media house is biased in its coverage of news. Early this year, officials of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held a press briefing targeting columnists of Nation On Sunday, accusing them of reporting negative issues about government.


Meanwhile, MISA-Malawi chapter is still monitoring the situation closely and has intensified discussions with managers at NPL as well as top government officials to resolve the matter.



Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)


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