CHAPTER 21:01
CENSORSHIP AND CONTROL OF ENTERTAINMENTS

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

   SECTION

PART I
PRELIMINARY

   1.   Short title

   2.   Interpretation

PART II
BOARD OF CENSORS

   3.   Establishment of Board of Censors

   4.   Tenure of office of members of Board

   5.   Proceedings of Board

   6.   Functions of Board

   7.   Committees of the Board

   7A.   Readers and viewers

   8.   Remuneration, etc., of Board and committee members, readers and viewers

PART III
THEATRE LICENCES

   9.   Theatre licences

PART IIIA
PREMISES LICENCE

   9A.   Premises licences

PART IV
CINEMATOGRAPH EXHIBITIONS

   10.   Certificates of approval

   11.   Applications for certificates

   12.   Issue of certificates

   13.   Classification of and conditions attached to certificates

PART V
STAGE PLAYS AND PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENTS

   14.   Entertainment permits

   15.   Applications for entertainment permits

   16.   Issue of entertainment permits

   17.   Additional entertainment permits required

   18.   Cruelty to animals

PART VI
THE MAKING OF CINEMATOGRAPH PICTURES

   19.   Film permits

   20.   Applications for film permits

   21.   Issue of film permits

   22.   Additional film permits required

PART VII
PUBLICATIONS, PICTURES, STATUES AND RECORDS

   23.   Prohibition of importation, etc., of undesirable publications, pictures, statues and records

   24.   Power of Board to declare publications, pictures statues and records undesirable

PART VIII
GENERAL

   25.   Duty of owner or manager, etc., of theatre

   26.   Power of entry

   27.   Exhibition of posters

   28.   Private exhibitions, etc., in theatres

   29.   Board’s power to order surrender of script, etc.

   30.   Appeals

   31.   Minister may cancel any certificate, permit or licence

   32.   Penalties

   33.   Exemptions

   34.   Rules

11 of 1968
24 of 1972
8 of 1980
3 of 1981
39 of 1981
25 of 1983
7 of 1986
22 of 1989

An Act to regulate and control the making and the exhibition of cinematograph pictures, the importation, production, dissemination of undesirable publications, pictures, statues and records, the performance or presentation of stage plays and public entertainments, the operation of theatres and like places for the performance or presentation of stage plays and public entertainments in the interest of safety, and to provide for matters incidental thereto or connected therewith

[2ND DECEMBER 1968]

PART I
PRELIMINARY

1.   Short title

    This Act may be cited as the Censorship and Control of Entertainments Act.

2.   Interpretation

   In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

   “Board” means the Board of Censors established under section 3;

   “cinematograph exhibition” means any exhibition of cinematograph pictures, whether with sound effects or not, presented by means of a cinematograph or other similar apparatus for presenting cinematograph pictures;

   “cinematograph picture” means any film, picture or other visual image, or part thereof, whether with sound effect or not, made by means of a cinematograph camera or other similar apparatus for recording films, pictures, or visual images, and intended for public exhibition or for sale or hire either within or outside Malawi;

   “licensing officer” means the Minister or such other person or persons as the Minister may appoint to be a licensing officer, whether for the whole of Malawi or such area thereof as may be specified in the appointment;

   “picture”, for the purposes of Part VII, includes—

   (a)   any drawing, illustration, painting, woodcut or similar presentation;

   (b)   any print, photograph, engraving, lithograph or similar presentation;

   (c)   any object in which a picture is contained;

   (d)   any exhibition for the purpose of advertising,

but does not include a cinematograph picture;

   “place” includes a vehicle, vessel or aircraft;

   “play”, in relation to a record, means to render audible the sounds recorded thereon;

   “public”, in relation to the exhibition of any cinematograph picture, publication, picture or statue, the playing of any record, or the performance or presentation of any stage play or public entertainment, means the exhibition, playing, performance or presentation thereof, as the case may be—

   (a)   in public; or

   (b)   at any place to which admission is obtained—

      (i)   by membership of any association of persons;

      (ii)   for any consideration, direct or indirect; or

      (iii)   by virtue of any contribution towards any fund;

   “public entertainment” includes any concert, animal or circus performance, zoo, waxworks, puppet performance, dancing exhibition, picture or art exhibition, game of skill or chance, acrobatic or other exhibition of skill, professional wrestling and boxing bout, to which the public are admitted either gratuitously or for reward, but does not include athletic games or sports;

   “publication” includes—

   (a)   any newspaper, book, periodical, pamphlet, poster, playing card, calendar or other printed matter;

   (b)   any writing or typescript which has in any manner been duplicated or exhibited or made available to the public or any section of the public;

   “record” means any contrivance or device in or on which sound has been recorded for reproduction;

   “stage play” includes any tragedy, comedy, play, opera, farce, revue, variety, burlesque, interlude, melodrama, pantomime, dialogue, prologue, epilogue or other dramatic entertainment or any part thereof;

   “statue” includes any figure, cast, carving, moulding or model;

   “theatre” means any building, tent or other erection of whatever nature, or any premises, place or open space in which a cinematograph exhibition, stage play or public entertainment is presented or performed before the public either gratuitously or for reward.

PART II
BOARD OF CENSORS

3.   Establishment of Board of Censors

    (1) There is hereby established a Board of Censors which shall consist of not less than six nor more than ten members appointed by the Minister as follows—

   (a)   one member, designated Chairman of the Board by the Minister;

   (b)   one member to represent the Ministry responsible for cultural affairs;

   (c)   not less than two nor more than eight other members.

   (2) Members of the Board shall not, by virtue only of their appointments to the Board, be deemed to be officers in the public service.

4.   Tenure of office of members of Board

   (1) A member of the Board shall hold office for two years. All members whose appointments are terminated shall be eligible for reappointment.

   (2) The Chairman of the Board may, by notice in writing to the Minister, resign his appointment, and any other member of the Board may resign by giving notice in writing to the Chairman, but no such resignation shall take effect until seven days after the receipt of the notice by the Minister or the Chairman, as the case may be.

5.   Proceedings of Board

    (1) The Chairman of the Board shall preside at meetings of the Board, but in the absence of the Chairman the other members present shall elect one of their number to perform the functions of the Chairman at that meeting.

   (2) The quorum of the Board shall be any three members thereof.

   (3) Decisions of the Board shall be in accordance with the vote of the majority of members present and voting thereon, but in the event of an equality of votes the Chairman or the person performing the functions of Chairman at the meeting concerned, shall have a casting vote in addition to his deliberative vote.

   (4) The Board shall meet at least once every three months, but the Chairman may, and upon application in writing by at least three members of the Board shall, convene an extraordinary meeting of the Board at any time.

   (5) The Board shall cause minutes of all proceedings at meetings of the Board and at meetings of the committees appointed under section 7 to be entered in books kept for that purpose. Any such minutes, if purporting to be approved and signed by the Chairman of the next succeeding meeting of the Board or, as the case may be, the committee concerned, shall, unless the contrary is proved, be evidence of the proceedings at the meeting to which they relate and such meeting shall be deemed to have been duly convened and held and all proceedings thereat to have been duly transacted and all appointments of the members present at such meetings shall be deemed valid.

   (6) Save as otherwise provided in this Act, the Board may—

   (a)   regulate its own procedures; and

   (b)   make administrative rules generally for the control, administration and management of the Board and its committees and for the conduct of its business.

6.   Functions of Board

   (1) The functions of the Board shall be—

   (a)   to consider or examine any cinematograph picture, publication, picture, statue, record, stage play or public entertainment submitted to it for consideration or examination;

   (b)   to make such enquiries as it considers necessary in respect of any cinematograph picture, publication, picture, statue, record, stage play or public entertainment which is alleged to be, or which it has reason to believe is undesirable within the meaning used in section 23 (2).

   (2) For the purposes of this section the Board may require that it, or any committee appointed under section 7, be given to examine and inspect, or has exhibited, performed, played or presented before it any cinematograph picture, publication, picture, statue, record, stage play or public entertainment intended for exhibition, performance or presentation to the public, whether gratuitously or for reward, at any time or place specified by the Board.

7.   Committees of the Board

   (1) For the purpose of carrying out its functions, the Board may, by resolution, appoint one or more committees, as it considers necessary, to inspect, examine and report on any cinematograph film, publication, picture, statue, record, stage play or public entertainment.

   (2) The Board shall determine the powers, and regulate the procedure, of all committees appointed under subsection (1) and may, subject to such conditions, exceptions and qualifications as it may specify, delegate to such committees any of its functions.

   (3) The membership of any committee appointed under this section may include persons who are not members of the Board.

7A   Readers and viewers

   (1) There shall be such numbers of readers and viewers as the Board deem necessary for the purposes of this Act and who shall from time to time be appointed by the Board pursuant to this section.

   (2) No person shall be appointed a reader or a viewer unless he has attained the Malawi Certificate of Education or possesses educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to or higher than such Certificate.

   (3) The duties of a reader shall be to read and understand such books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals and other publications as are submitted to him for that purpose by the Board; to interpret the same in relation to the provisions of section 23 (2), and to furnish to the Board his unbiased opinion in writing as to whether or not such publication constitutes an undesirable publication within the meaning of section 23 (2) together with a statement of his reasons for such opinion.

   (4) The duties of a viewer shall be—

   (a)   to view, hear and understand such cinematograph pictures, stage plays and public entertainments;

   (b)   to view and understand such pictures or statues; and

   (c)   to hear and understand such records,

as are submitted to him for viewing or hearing, or as he is directed to view or hear, by the Board;

   (d)   to interpret the same in relation to the provisions of section 23 (2); and

   (e)   to furnish to the Board his unbiased opinion in writing as to whether or not such cinematograph picture, stage play, public entertainment, picture, statue or record, as the case may be, constitutes an undesirable publication within the meaning of section 23 (2) together with a statement of his reasons for such opinion.

   (5) Readers and viewers shall be appointed for a term not exceeding two years but shall be eligible for re-appointment.

   (6) The appointment of any reader or viewer may be terminated after not less than one month’s notice in writing given to him by the Board.

   (7) Any reader or viewer may relinquish his appointment not less than one month after giving to the Board notice of his intention to do so.

8.   Remuneration, etc., of Board and committee members, readers and viewers

   Members of the Board, committee members appointed under section 7 and readers and viewers appointed pursuant to section 7A, may be paid such remuneration and allowances out of moneys appropriated by Parliament for the purpose as may for the time being have been approved by the Minister.

PART III
THEATRE LICENCES

9.   Theatre licences

   (1) Any person who uses or causes, permits or suffers to be used any building, tent, or other erection, or any premises, place or open space as a theatre, unless there has first been obtained from the appropriate licensing officer a licence in respect thereof (hereinafter referred to as a "theatre licence") or who uses such building, tent, erection, premises, place or open space as a theatre otherwise than in accordance with the terms and conditions of a theatre licence issued under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence.

   (2) A licensing officer may refuse to grant a theatre licence or may grant it subject to such terms and conditions as the licensing officer thinks desirable for securing the safety, health and convenience of persons attending the theatre, or conformity of the theatre or any equipment or lighting therein with any rules made under this Act.

   (3) A licensing officer may issue a theatre licence either generally or for cinematograph exhibitions only, or for stage plays only or for any specified type of public entertainment only or in respect of any specified cinematograph exhibition, stage play or public entertainment, or for such period not exceeding twelve months as the licensing officer thinks fit, or for any combination of the above.

   (4) A licensing officer may revoke or suspend a theatre licence at any time if, in his opinion, the safety, health or convenience of persons attending the theatre is not adequately provided for, or if the structure, equipment or lighting has ceased to comply with any rules made under this Act.

   (5) A licensing officer may issue a theatre licence upon condition that the theatre shall not be used for the purposes specified in the licence except under the superintendence of some officer or person specified in the licence, and in such case, it shall be lawful, at any time, for the officer or person so specified to order any cinematograph exhibition, stage play or public exhibition presented in the theatre to cease or to give any other directions which he thinks necessary for ensuring the safety of the theatre and of the audience.

   (6) Any licensee or any owner or manager of a theatre, or other person responsible for the presentation of any cinematograph exhibition, stage play or public entertainment who fails to comply with any order or direction given under subsection (5) shall be guilty of an offence.

   (7) A theatre licence may, on application made in writing, be transferred or amended by a licensing officer.

PART IIIA
PREMISES LICENCE

9A.   Premises licence

   (1) No person shall use or operate any premises for the purpose of letting to the public for gain or reward any cinematograph picture unless there is in respect of such premises a valid licence (hereinafter referred to as the "premises licence") issued under subregulation (3) or use or operate such premises for such purpose otherwise than in accordance with the terms and conditions of the premises licence.

   (2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence, and liable to a fine of K1,000 or imprisonment for three months.

   (3) A licensing officer may refuse to grant a premises licence or may grant it subject to such terms and conditions as he thinks desirable for ensuring compliance with the provisions of this Act or of any rules made thereunder relating to classification and exhibition of cinematograph pictures.

   (4) Every premises licence shall expire on the 31st December following the date of its issue but may at any time before expiry and with the approval of the Board—

   (a)   be transferred to any other premises or licensee;

   (b)   be amended by a licensing officer.

   (5) A premises licence shall be subject to payment by the licensee of such annual fee as the Minister may prescribe and where the period for which the licence is issued does not exceed nine months the fee payable shall be proportionately reduced.

PART IV
CINEMATOGRAPH EXHIBITIONS

10.   Certificates of approval

    No person shall present any cinematograph exhibition to which the public is admitted either gratuitously or for reward, except under the authority of and in accordance with a certificate of approval (hereinafter referred to as a "certificate") issued under this Act in respect of such cinematograph exhibition and every part thereof, and any person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.

11.   Applications for certificates

   (1) An application for a certificate shall be made in writing to the Board, and shall be accompanied by a statement of the theatre or theatres where, and the time or times when, the cinematograph exhibition is intended to be presented (unless, for satisfactory reasons given, these particulars cannot be specified), and such other particulars and descriptions as the Board may, from time to time require.

   (2) Where the application for a certificate is made in respect of a cinematograph exhibition which is to be presented in a language other than English, it shall, if the Board so requires, be accompanied by a translation into English by an interpreter approved by the Board of all dialogue, titles and subtitles spoken or used in the cinematograph exhibition.

12.   Issue of certificates

    (1) After considering an application for a certificate, the Board may refuse the application or may issue a certificate subject to such terms and conditions as may be specified in the certificate.

   (2) The Board may, with the approval of the Minister, direct that a certificate shall be issued free in cases where the cinematograph exhibition is to be given for any charitable, educational or public purpose.

   (3) A certificate shall be issued on behalf of the Board by the Chief Censoring Officer, or by such other officer of the Board as the Board may authorize, upon receipt by him of the prescribed fee, if any, and in accordance with such general or special direction as the Board may give.

13.   Classification of and conditions attached to certificates

    (1) Where the Board decides to authorize the issue of a certificate in respect of any cinematograph exhibition it shall authorize such issue in accordance with the classifications and conditions specified in subsection (2), and may authorize the issue subject to any or all of the following conditions—

   (a)   that the cinematograph exhibitions may only be presented at such theatre or theatres as the Board may, in its discretion, specify;

   (b)   that the cinematograph exhibition may be presented only after any specified portion or portions have been excised therefrom.

   (2) Certificates shall be issued in accordance with one or other of the following classifications—

   (a)   “U” certificate—suitable for exhibition to persons of any age;

   (b)   “A” certificate—suitable for exhibition to persons of any age provided that persons less than 14 years of age are accompanied by a person aged 18 years or more;

   (c)   “AA” certificate—suitable for exhibition to persons aged 14 years or more;

   (d)   “X” certificate—suitable for exhibition to persons aged 18 years or more.

PART V
STAGE PLAYS AND PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENTS

14.   Entertainment permits

    No person shall promote, present, cause, permit or suffer to be promoted or presented or shall direct, assist or take part in any performance or presentation of any stage play or public entertainment to which the public is admitted either gratuitously or for reward except under the authority of and in accordance with a permit, hereinafter referred to as an entertainment permit, issued in accordance with this Act, in respect of that performance or presentation, and any person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.

15.   Applications for entertainment permits

   (1) An application for an entertainment permit shall be made in writing to the Board at least two weeks before the time when the stage play or public entertainment is intended to be first performed or presented, and shall be accompanied by a statement of the theatre or theatres where and the time or times when the stage play or public entertainment is to be performed or presented, together with the full text of the stage play or a sufficient description which the Board may from time to time require.

   (2) Where the text of any stage play sent to the Board is not in the English language, the Board may, if it thinks fit, require the applicant to furnish a true translation of the text in English by an interpreter approved by the Board.

16.   Issue of entertainment permits

    (1) After considering an application for an entertainment permit the Board may refuse the issue of such permit or may issue such permit either unconditionally or subject to such terms and conditions as the Board may think fit, including all or any of the following—

   (a)   that the stage play or public entertainment shall not be performed or presented before children of or under a specified age;

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