By Chris Zumani Zimba
The problem here is not with IBA, it is entirely on Prime TV. From my desk, I have established that sometimes, Prime TV’s approach of reporting and news coverage has been politically too poisonous to Zambia and notoriously dangerous to national unity and political stability. For example, last month, they made main news item that HH was being chased for 8 hours and almost assassinated in the jungles of Sesheke by State House Police and PF cadres who fired him and his UPND cadres with more than 1,000 live bullets when the main opposition leader and all his followers are still 100% alive and entirely unhurt, no one even reported to have a mere sole treated by either known Sesheke witch doctors or rural clinical officers in Southern or Western provinces.
Hence, I personally expected to hear about this ban or suspension last month following their coverage of HH’s attempted ‘assassination’ in Sesheke because it was purely like maliciously throwing coal fire into the hot engine of a speedy flying jumbo jet when you are sure that the plane will be automatically set ablaze and everyone on board will perish to unknown ashes. Both the public and private media have a moral, professional and legal duty to always be factual especially on political issues because what they report can fuel political unrest and set the country on fire if left professionally un-regulated or controlled especially that they are also now more vulnerable to political party capture.
We only appeal to IBA to help Prime TV to stand up better after 30 days or less and pray that they come back with more professional fire, factual reporting and balanced coverage without fear or favour. The fact is that we all need Prime TV and more of such media houses to strengthen our democracy. Next time, they should avoid to be killed and buried by their own remaining legal ‘enemy’ or ‘professional regulator’ by being more professional and factual as well as somehow balanced because it is painful, very hateful to stand where they are standing right now. As they come back, let Prime TV deliberately begin to practice ethical values of investigative journalism, balanced factual coverage and high level of professionalism and objectivity especially on political matters than generally appearing to be an opposition sponsored private propaganda media house.
This morning in Lusaka, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has suspended independent TV station Prime TV for ‘exhibiting unprofessional elements in its broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news, material likely to incite violence and use of derogatory language.’
Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka on Monday morning, IBA Board Chairperson Chanda Kasolo who is also Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary said IBA has also issued 22 radio licences, suspended two including Prime TV and Valley FM and revoked another two licences of Ngoma and Kafue radio stations. IBA Board Secretary Josephine Mapoma says that during the suspension the stations are expected to conduct in-house training on basic journalism ethics and news writing.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher and Consultant. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Radio, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:20hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles. Sometimes, he lectures Political Science-Part Time with University of Zambia (UNZA) and University of Lusaka (UNILUS) outside his usual commitments. Chriszumanizimba.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; +260 973 153 815