The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has said the Independent Broadcasting Authority’s directive to radio and television stations that they submit recordings of their programs every two weeks will kill the broadcast media sector.
In a statement, the MLC, a coalition of 15 media organizations, stated that it was sad that the directive came a few weeks after the media celebrated the World Press Freedom Day.
“The MLC find this notice as another example of the increasing anti-media activities towards the broadcast media sector by the IBA, which if left unchecked will kill the media sector. The MLC also notes with sadness the poor timing of these IBA actions that happen during the months that journalists are either celebrating world press freedom or deliberating on important matters of improving the media sector,” stated MLC chairperson Enoch Ngoma. “Last year in May during celebrations of Press Freedom period, the IBA suspended licences of 12 selected media houses and revoked the license of Copperbelt TV. This year around the same period, the IBA had suspended licences of Prime TV, Valley FM of Nyimba, Ngoma Radio in Luanshya and Kafue Radio of Lusaka. The IBA’s notice for the media to provide media recordings every 2 weeks come barely a week after the Zambian media returned from a two- day Insaka where momentous decisions were made at improving the media regulatory framework and harmonising existing media regulations including the IBA and the ZNBC Acts. Among the issues deliberated on included the complete overhaul of the IBA system to make broadcast media self-regulated like any print and online media.”
He stated that the notice was clearly a harassment of the media industry.
“The MLC therefore find this notice which falls outside the IBA’s mandate and statutes as a clear provocation and harassment of the media sector. The MLC finds this notice also anti-media and aimed at killing the media industry through the unnecessary inconvenience and added cost of recording and shipping these media recordings to Lusaka from far flung areas as Mwinilunga, Mwandi, Nakonde and Lundazi just to mention a few. The MLC also find this directive an un planned cost to the poor community radio and TV stations,” Ngoma stated.
“It is the duty of the IBA to spend money monitoring media activities through their Inspection Department but not their mandate to pass on this cost to poor and overregulated broadcast media sector, especially community radio stations.”
The MLC has suggested measures that will provide clear oversight on the IBA, among them the appointment of a new IBA Board to modernise the Authority and “give it a new management team that understands the role of broadcast media in good governance and democracy in the new era of media freedoms and self-regulation”.
Other proposals include: “Repeal the IBA Act and remove anti-media growth clauses that restrict media freedoms, income generation activities, editorial independence and professionalism, especially among community media; Transform the IBA and make them a protector of media freedoms and media professionalism in these times of media attacks and journalists harassments in the line of duty amidst hostile political and public environment; Harmonise the IBA and ZNBC Acts to allow for statutory media self-regulation of the Broadcast Sector; Compel the IBA to use technology and cloud services to create online mail drop boxes for the media to quarterly save their recordings for any interested party and researchers to access at no cost to the media.