Malawi has closed an independent radio station said to be lauded for its contribution to free speech and civic information.
The Nyasa Times reports that the Joy FM radio station is accused of violating a federal law that prohibits broadcast licenses from being issued to any entity “which is of a party-political nature.”
Although the newspaper claims that Joy FM lacks any party affiliation, a report in Malawi’s Daily Times newspaper notes that the station’s holding company, Atupele Properties, is owned by former President Bakili Muluzi and his wife.
Although the Nyasa Times hailed Joy FM for exposing government corruption, failed policy and rights abuses, comments on the newspaper’s Web site questioned that claim, said other stations had greater credibility, and that political conflict between the current and former presidents was the real issue.
Malawi’s private media sector is considered by many to be a valuable government watchdog.
Some other independent radio station owners reported being intimidated by threats of closure from the State House Press Officer, though the Nyasa Times did not confirm this.
–Lauren Riggs, Newsdesk.org
“Joy FM back in court on Dec 15”
The Daily Times (Malawi), December 3, 2008
“Joy FM closure- threat to Malawi press freedom, human rights”
Nyasa Times (Malawi), December 2, 2008