"We would like to appeal to the current administration to take a step further by turning the state broadcaster into a public broadcaster," commented The Daily Times
late last week.
The newspaper, while reacting to president Banda 's guidance to the newly sworn in Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu, took advantage of the ceremony to declare 'Let MBC become a public broadcaster.'Public broadcaster vs state broadcaster
"It is easy for MBC to migrate to public broadcasting since it is funded by the public through tax and what needs to be done is to let it be controlled by the public through parliament," stated the newspaper, before laying out arguments that suggests how advantageous a public broadcaster is over a state broadcaster.
"The advantage of [public] broadcasting is its inclusiveness through accessibility to all. Unlike state broadcasting, which serves the interest of the executive and here in Malawi, politicians of the ruling party, public broadcasting is ideal because it serves the government and the public well," it says.The Daily Times
says because public broadcasters are accessible to all and they place emphasis on quality, balance and impartiality, commitment to education of the public and independence from political and commercial interference, it believes time is ripe that MBC should change its status of being a state broadcaster to a public broadcaster.Providing accurate information to citizens
President Banda, last week, said state-owned MBC should be a media house that should provide accurate information to the citizenry besides providing a platform for diverse opinions on issues of national and public interest.
After installing Kunkuyu, Banda took time to guide him on how best to carry out his duties, especially by ensuring that the state broadcaster transforms its image.
"The minister of information has a huge responsibility of building the good image of government and one way of doing so is by ensuring that the media nurtures democracy to grow," she said.
She explained that she appointed Kunkuyu, a Blantyre City South MP, with considering his political affiliation as she is ready to work with everyone in the country.
President Banda replaced Patricia Kaliati with Kunkuyu
, on 10 April 2012.Voice of the government
"I want from today onwards the minister of information to be the voice of government; to build a good image of the government. I want the minister to give dignity to the office of ministry of information because people will judge the government because of what comes out of your mouth," she said.
The president then told the new minister that she did not expect him to tell the nation how great she is on MBC, as was the case with the previous information ministers, because the state broadcaster if for the nation, not hers as president.
"I will expect you to give me the true and good advice. I will expect that my minister of information will not take Malawians for granted because Malawians are not children; they have brains and they think; don't cover anything up," advised Banda.Kunkuyu declares to tell the truth
A few months ago, Kunkuyu announced the formation of a pressure group called Hope Alliance within parliament, that opposed to dictatorial tendency of the late president Mutharika.
Kunkuyu said it is humbling to be appointed minister of information.
"I thank God and I thank the president for what she has done. I will be the voice of government and will always tell the truth," he declared.
His declaration followed President Banda's insistence to immediately replace the information minister because she believes in truth and preservation of government's image and dignity.
At the swearing in ceremony that was held at the Office of the President and Cabinet premises presided over by chief secretary to government, Bright Msaka, and administered by cabinet clerk, Chinthu Phiri, Banda said MBC should spruce up its image through the new minister.Changing the face of MBC
With such counsel The Daily Times
said, "The president's guidance to the new information minister and MBC that the state media should be providing accurate information to the citizenry and offering a platform for diverse opinions on the issues of national and public interest is very important."
The newspaper said members of management and the media practitioners at the state broadcaster, some of whom reduced themselves to propagandist and political bootlickers should get a cue from the new president that MBC can indeed redeem its own image through professionalism.
"It is an open secret that MBC has been called names before. It was once despised...by some critics who were annoyed by its overzealous denigration of government critics and opposition leaders," said the newspaper.
"Who can blame the critics, when some political programmes were produced just to vilify opposition leader? There are numerous derogatory descriptions of MBC that mirror the corporation's mind-numbing coverage particularly of political events and its slapdash performance."
The newspaper observed that apart from impressing the propagandists themselves and few politicians who were beneficiaries of the half baked political programmes, MBC has never really won the trust and support of many taxpayers who still associate it with blatant political partisanship.
Commenting on the merger of radio and television at the institution, The Daily Times
said that even government's recent attempts to restructure the corporation into an efficient and competitive public broadcaster serving a diverse and increasingly enlightened population in the changed political circumstances was disastrous.
"Talented and highly qualified broadcasters were kicked out, transferred, demoted or frustrated, while [bootlickers] were rewarded and promoted. The fiasco that erupted during the so called restructuring saw the corporation and its managers being dragged to court," it says.
At the rate the state broadcaster was operating recently, the newspaper says it risked being pushed over into the abyss of irrelevance by aggressive and creative private broadcasters that currently dominate the airwaves.
"The private media's coverage of the death of our head of state and the transition of power demonstrated how professional they are. Instead of depending on MBC, the nation depended on the private media to follow events of these developments," observed The Daily Times
"The new president is right that the new information minister needs to work hard to restore the image of MBC so that it can be associated with broadcasting the truth," added the newspaper.