Lusaka, 4 March 2019: Panos Institute Southern Africa calls on Zambia’s Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to rescind the suspension of the broadcasting license for one of the country’s leading private television stations, Prime TV.
Earlier today (on 4th March 2019), the IBA wrote to Prime TV management informing them that following a hearing held on 1st March 2019, the authority had resolved to suspend Prime TV’s broadcasting license for 30 days. The reason cited for the suspension were that the station “failed…to comply with the conditions of the broadcasting license”. During the suspension, Prime TV “is expected to conduct in-house training in basic journalism ethics and news script writing”.
We urge the IBA to use other channels other than suspension of broadcasting licenses to address any issues or concerns relating to the professional conduct of a media house. Panos is of the view that suspension of broadcasting license of one of the country’s leading broadcasters will instil fear in other broadcasters, and this may contribute to muzzling of media space and freedom of the media to inform, educate and entertain without fear or favour. We are of the view that the IBA has at its disposal other means or avenues of engaging prime TV and other media houses without taking such severe action.
We reiterate that the media is an important driver of Zambia’s democracy. When the media is restricted through suspensions as is the case with Prime TV, citizens are deprived of platforms through which they can speak truth to power and hold their leaders to account. This limits the extent to which citizens can access and share information on developmental issues of concern to them and their communities.
Panos therefore appeals to the IBA to reconsider its stance, and immediately lift the suspension of Prime TV’s broadcasting license.
Lilian Saka Kiefer
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)