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Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joy radio closed again

The High Court in Blantyre has lifted an
injunction obtained by privately owned Joy Radio Station restraining
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) from closing it.

The ruling means that Joy Radio does not have a broadcasting licence and, therefore, it is technically closed.

Delivering the ruling in his chamber, Judge Joseph Manyungwa lifted the injunction on grounds that Joy Radio misled the court.

He stated that an applicant for an injunction was supposed to disclose all facts before the court.

“There was suppression of material facts when the exparte applicant was seeking court’s relief,” the judge explained.

The Judge said that in its affidavit, Joy Radio told the court that
Macra revoked the licence without giving the station an opportunity to
be heard.

According to affidavits, the respondent (Macra) wrote the station on
August 28 to provide recorded broadcast material, a request the station
did not comply with.

“Joy Radio did not respond to the letter until September 18, when they
explained that they were not ready to submit the recorded material
because the materials would end up in the hands of Information Minister
Patricia Kaliati and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation [MBC],” he said.

He said the action meant the court was misled.

Judge Manyungwa also said that Macra, according to Section 54 of the Communications Act, has the right to monitor the station.

In an interview after the ruling, one of Macra’s lawyers Kelvin Nyasulu
said the ruling meant that Joy Radio has no broadcasting licence and
thus closed.

“The ruling means that there is nothing that can stop Macra from revoking Joy Radio’s broadcasting licence,” Nyasulu said.

Joy Radio lawyer Ralph Kasambara, who was absent at the court, refused
to comment on the ruling, saying he had not seen the verdict.

“But if the injunction has been lifted, we will take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal,” he said.

On his application to have the injunction extended, Kasambara said the court would hear his arguments today, November 20.

Joy Radio wants an order that the injunction granted herein by the
court on October 17, 2008 be extended pending judicial review on its
differences with Macra.

The radio station was closed on October 17 due to, among other reasons,
transfer of ownership from Multi Media Communications Limited in 2002
to Atupele Properties in 2005.

Atupele Properties belongs to former president Bakili Muluzi and former wife Annie.

This, according to Macra, means Joy radio is now in the hands of politicians, which is contrary to the Communications Act.

Joy Radio has been at loggerheads with Macra for some time now. The
communications regulatory body also closed the station’s sister company
Joy Television.

Kasambara obtained an injunction two days after the revocation of the license by Macra.

As we went to press, Joy Radio was still on air despite the verdict,
apparently because management had not been served with the ruling yet.

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