The media climate in Malawi is not satisfactory at all. The repressive government is blocking its free and fair passage of expression. In fact, the traditional media outlets are dominated by the government in all spheres. Even, the government does not allows the private broadcasters to open their outlets and run properly. So, the number of private broadcasters is limited. Sometimes, the radius of broadcasting is set for the private broadcasters as well so that they cannot cover a long distance. The state-owned newspapers are the medium for the government to convey their message to the people though the number of readership is limited for the newspapers.
The flourishment of media outlets in the country did not happen for several reasons. The top most reason is the government’s nosiness. The media development is barred because it needs permission from the government to do all the things. In fact, they are unable to do something independently. The autocratic system is expected to be removed that will bring the media freedom. Besides, the media outlets are based in the cities only and the rural population has less or almost no access to the media outlets. So, a large portion of the people are unaware of the happenings around the country.
Malawi is a landlocked country and thus there are fewer chances of media growth. The media outlets mostly use some local ethnic languages in line with English and Chichewa. But due to a higher illiteracy rate, the media outlets have less readership. And the newspapers are not published regularly. They come on weekly or bi-weekly basis. And it happens for the excessive cost of printing and other materials. But radio is advanced in this case. The radio coverage is available across the nation. And almost everyone has their access to radio. Besides, they have customized programs for their audiences which are really enjoyable.
Though the constitution of the country ensures the press freedom, this is not practiced in reality. The media outlets are not allowed to expose official secrets. But there are some self-censorships available on the country. The media outlets are not allowed to hurt any religious feelings or issues. Besides, they do not also publish any such information which proves harmful to the nation and its sovereignty. There was a certain time when the journalists had to live in fear. To survive, they did not expose something that may displease the ruler. And even the entrance of the foreign journalists was forbidden too.
The number of private media outlets is limited in the country and the government is strict to control them. And prior to 1994, broadcast media was banned to some extent to create a pressure on the media outlets. The broadcasting of commercial stations was to some limited extent and their contents were strongly monitored.
Over 16 newspapers are under operation in the country and they come with different languages. Most of the newspapers come with news and views of generalized interest. They do not publish any secret information that might be harmful to the nation. And the number of readerships is lower in the rural areas but the readership is moderate in the urban regions. Almost all of the newspapers are published in a regular interval.
The country has around 20 television channels under operation in the present age. They come with diversified programs and shows for the audiences. Most of the television channels broadcast using the local language and they have certain types of audiences to enjoy their programs.
There are four radio stations altogether and they operate across the country. Among the four stations, two of them are owned by the state and come with the state events and bulletins. But radio is the strongest media outlet in the country and the number of listeners is more than the other types of outlets.
The use of the internet is notable in the country and most of the internet users use it for their social communication. But some of them use the internet for knowing about the surrounding happenings as well.