Critical Zambia private TV station shut

Monday March 4 2019

Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MICHAEL CHAWE
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Zambian authorities Monday suspended a broadcast licence for a Lusaka-based private TV station deemed to be anti-government.

The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) said the suspension of Prime TV was with immediate effect and would last 30 days.

IBA board secretary Josephine Mapoma told reporters that; “the IBA has found that the station exhibited unprofessional elements in its broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news and material likely to incite violence using derogatory language”.

During the suspension, Prime TV was expected to conduct in-house training on basic journalism ethics and news script writing, she said.

Biased reporting

Prime TV owner Gerald Shawa refused to comment saying “he would act later”.

A few weeks ago, the governing party's secretary-general Davies Mwila lodged a complaint against the station's alleged biased reporting during a parliamentary election west of the country, which they lost to the main opposition UPND.

The authority also suspended a licence of Valley FM of Nyimba, located east of the capital, for 60 days “for unprofessional conduct that manifested by its failure to balance a discussion programme”.

The IBA has also revoked the operations of Ngoma and Kafue Radio stations, while 22 new radio stations have been given new licences.

Political opponents

Information Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said the suspension must serve as a warning to some media houses, that IBA was going to be strict with any station that goes beyond set regulations.

Mr Kasolo said the ministry was in the process of coming up with toll free lines from all the three mobile subscribers to receive complaints from the public regarding coverage.

The move, in the country where political space was narrowing, was likely to be viewed as intimidation and gagging of the media.

President Edgar Lungu has been accused of persecuting his political opponents with many facing court or state investigations on “trumped-up charges”.

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