A Lusaka-based private TV station which has had its licence temporarily suspended for 30 days after it was deemed too critical of the government, is the latest media outlet to be censored by the Zambian authorities.
Zambia’s Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) said the suspension of Prime TV was with immediate effect and would last 30 days, the East African reported.
According to the IBA, the station had “exhibited unprofessional elements in its broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news and material likely to incite violence using derogatory language”.
Prime TV owner Gerald Shawa refused to comment, saying “he would act later”.
The suspension follows Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party’s secretary-general Davies Mwila lodging a complaint several weeks ago over Prime TV’s coverage and alleged biased reporting of a parliamentary election in the west of the country, which was won by the main opposition group the United Party for National Development (UPND).
However, Prime TV is just the latest media outlet to be censored by Lusaka.
Valley FM of Nyimba, east of the capital, was also recently suspended for 60 days for alleged unprofessional conduct and failing to remain balanced, according to the authorities.
The IBA has also revoked the operations of Ngoma and Kafue Radio stations, although 22 new radio stations have been given new licences.
The suspensions should serve as a warning to media houses that the IBA would strictly enforce regulations if stations exceeded the set boundaries, warned Information Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo.
To further enforce its media crackdown, Kasolo added that the ministry was in the process of establishing toll free lines for mobile subscribers to receive complaints from the public regarding coverage.
The move will be seen by critics as intimidation and further gagging of the media as the opposition asserts that room for political dissent is narrowing with accusations against President Edgar Lungu of persecuting his opponents with trumped up legal charges.
African News Agency (ANA)