Macra Warns Multichoice Malawi

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) has published a public warning to Multichoice (Malawi) Limited for launching GOtv, a low cost television services without authorisation and licence.

The warning comes after government questioned why Multichoice is operating GOtv when it has no 'valid' licence.

Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu, said in an interview that he was surprised that the company was operating in Malawi.

"What I have on my desk is that GOtv was stopped from rolling out because there are irregularities with its licensing," said Kunkuyu.

Macra, however, published the warning in the local media the whole of last week in what it said was pursuant to Section 54 (3) of the Malawi Communications Act.

The public warning dated June 7, 2013 and signed by Charles Nsaliwa Macra Director General which reads in part:

“The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority hereby issue a warning to Multichoice (Malawi) Limited for launch of GOtv Services without authorisation and licence contrary to Section 46 of the Communications Act.”

Nsaliwa writes in the warning that this warning follows a meeting that was held at MACRA offices on April 23, 2013 between Macra and Multichoice officials where the latter acknowledged that they did not follow both the law and procedures in launching GOtv.

Macra has defied the Minister’s wishes to completely suspend operations of GOtv services, saying Multichoice Malawi is allowed to continue offering GOtv services as the Authority is in the process of licensing them.

The Information Minister said the GOtv services surprised government because it came at a time when the team that is overseeing Malawi's digital migration is trying to create a company of GOtv's nature, which would be able to host all television stations in the country to be in line with the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The warning has come about after Macra finished investigating GOtv to establish how it ended up operating in Malawi without a licence.

The board Chair, Martha Kwataine, said in an interview that it is the board that recommends the issuance of operators' licence and it is therefore incumbent upon the same board to establish what exactly happened.

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