The Independent Media Monitoring Unit of the Malawi Electoral Commission Report 4 for the period to 20th March 2009
(20 Mar 2009)
This report comes at an important moment for the media in Malawi. The official campaign period is under way although the notions of democratic balance and fairness apply on a permanent basis not just for a few weeks
prior to an election. The pressure on the media inevitably increases at this time.
The general standard of coverage varies from the excellent through to the promising and on to poor and undemocratic. Up to now, while there has been no appreciable improvement at one end of the scale, there are those who are clearly delivering on their promises. The determination of the two main newspaper groups to maintain their commitment to covering a wide range of parties is a very positive element. Several of the private radio
stations are doing very well indeed when measured over a substantial period of time.
An additional and valuable pressure was added recently when MACRA published, for the first time, the results of their media monitoring. It should be noted that, while the identified tendencies to balance or lack of balance
are not identical to those of MEC’s monitors, they are similar. The big difference is in the fact that, while MACRA measure news bulletins, MEC is also calculating the share of all political programming including news and
public meetings, rallies, discussions etc. Those parties that are having their rallies broadcast are obviously at a very considerable electoral advantage and this is reflected in MEC’s wide survey of media democratic balance.
A number of other stations are being monitored beyond the ones reported on here. If the quantity of their output of political/ election coverage warrants it, the results of this monitoring will appear in subsequent reports.
|| Monitored Dates