Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has lifted a moratorium on issuance of new radio frequency licences in the frequency modulation (FM) band for content services.
Briefing journalists at the regulator’s head office in Blantyre on Wednesday, Macra director of broadcasting FegusLipenga said his organisation is now ready to implement a new plan developed for the FM band.
He said the development means that those seeking to venture into radio broadcasting business or to expand their frequencies can now submit their applications.
The maximum waiting period for a radio licence is two months, Lipenga said.
In June 2018, Macra suspended the issuance of radio frequency licences in the FM band to facilitate re-planning of the band which had become congested; hence, could not accommodate additional radio stations.
During the briefing, Lipenga said the new development will see some broadcasters being requested to switch off their transmitters while others would be re-assigned new frequencies and some will be required to reduce transmitting power to avoid interference.
He said: “This exercise will economically benefit broadcasters as they will be able to transmit using few transmitters, thereby minimising on expenses.”
On his part, Macra deputy director of spectrum management Patrick Musiyapo said a task force that includes broadcasters is in place to ensure smooth implementation of the process.
“This process will allow optimum use of transmitters as broadcasters will only be allowed to use transmitters that would operate at long distances other than having many transmitters or having many frequencies for a single broadcaster,” he said.
Earlier this year, Macra embarked on a spectrum and frequency audit and re-farming of the country’s FM band to manage interference and frequency congestion.
Macra director general Godfrey Itaye said at the time that the exercise would help the regulator to determine illegal use of spectrum, build database and enable growth of services in broadcasting.
Malawi has for the past years witnessed saturation of the FM band which ranges from 87.5 to 108 MegaHertZ, mainly due to the enormous growth in broadcasting sector with over 80 licensed broadcasters so far.