Malawi: MACRA Instructs Broadcasters To Submit Audited Accounts Or Face Penalty
The regulatory body's technical advisor on digital migration, Benson Tembo sounded this warning on Thursday in Mzuzu when MACRA briefed broadcasters about the introduction of the Universal Services Fund (USF) in the northern region.
According to Tembo: “It is mandatory that each broadcaster sends in audited accounts at the end of each year which will help us know exactly whether they are providing the services they claim they are and know those who are also above water financially. In fact, this newly introduced Universal Service Fund (USF) requires that the broadcasters contribute a levy to the fund and this levy can be determined by what is in their audited accounts because it is just one percent of their gross revenue. So, it is imperative that they submit their audited accounts because this will help determine what percentage what broadcaster should contribute. Should any broadcasters not comply with this obligation, MACRA will revoke their license without hesitation."
Tembo explained that the USF would make sure that all areas including the remotest locations have access to ICT, postal, telecommunication and courier services explaining that after carrying out researches into the specific areas needs of such as transmitters, and access roads, the fund will be used to provide those needs.
“During our research, we observed that there are some locations where it is difficult to get radio or TV signals. So, the fund is going to help look into such areas and provide the needed services to make living conditions better for residents. The universal services fund will work to the advantage of the operators themselves.” Tembo said.
Acting Managing Director for the Karonga-based Radio Dinosaur Alexander Mhango said the USF levy is a welcome idea because it will work in the interest of the broadcasters in the country.
Provision for the USF is in the revised Communications Act of 2016 which aims to reduce to the barest minimum, the struggle for affordable and sustainable ways of providing information, especially in rural and remote areas.