How does the cancellation of the Prime TV’s licence for its rogue and irresponsible reporting have to do with the 2021 general elections? How does IBA’s independence and professionalism, an independent organization just like LAZ come under fire by LAZ? Is LAZ’s accusation of IBA a reflection of what they stand for?*
The importance of media freedom cannot be overstressed, but each one of us must understand and accept that media freedom comes with great responsibility to report the news accurately, fairly and responsibly.
LAZ needs to understand that the PF government allows and accepts, just like any other democratic government worldwide that dissent is always welcome but not advocacy of disintegration, for democracy can thrive only when all shades of opinion are expressed freely.*
Any attempt to stifle or shut out contrarian viewpoints will stunt intellectual development in the same way that cooked propaganda to make a country ungovernable or propel regime change will do, so all media houses must be fair and responsible and not extreme.
The negligence by LAZ to do a due diligence on Prime TV and its kind of news reporting in the last few year sbring a lot of question on the fore on the integrity of LAZ and what it really represents. Do they represent impartiality or do they represent an agenda?
For a while now, the current LAZ regime has portrayed signs of being a leftist organization against the PF government and not an organization that is supposed to be impartial, but is a story of another day. If LAZ had even tried to do their due diligence, they should have discovered that Prime TV had been warned before in the past and they had also saved a 30 days suspension imposed by IBA for gross negligence. Below is an extract from the statement by LAZ,
In view of the above provisions of the IBA Act and the contents of the Press Release issued by the IBA on 9th April 2020, LAZ is of the view, and did establish from Prime TV, that the IBA never issued any notice or warning to Prime TV, as required by Section 29 (2) of the IBA Act and that the IBA did not go further to avail Prime TV an opportunity to be heard. Accordingly, LAZ is of the view that the conduct of the IBA in cancelling the licence for Prime TV was done prematurely and contrary to the clear provisions of the law.
The question I beg to ask is, where was LAZ when Prime TV was warned and it saved a 30 days suspension? Does that not amount to a notice or warning to Prime TV a s per LAZ?* Second extract from the statement by LAZ*
LAZ is also of the view that the action and conduct of the IBA is an affront to the freedom of the media and an assault on the democratic right of freedom of expression. With the recent decision by the Government to stop all government officers from dealing with Prime TV owing to Prime TV’s reported decision not to allow the Government to air any COVID-19 announcements on Prime TV and the removal of Prime TV from the TopStar platform, the timing of the cancellation of Prime TV’s licence raises a lot of speculation and reasonable doubts about the independence and professionalism of the IBA in this matter. This is a serious concern for the future of the private media in Zambia especially as the nation heads towards the 2021 Presidential and General Elections._
How does the cancellation of the Prime TV’s licence for its rogue and irresponsible reporting have to do with the 2021 general elections? How does IBA’s independence and professionalism, an independent organization just like LAZ come under fire by LAZ? Is LAZ’s accusation of IBA a reflection of what they stand for?
With the fore going, it is very easy to conclude, unless otherwise that LAZ is also a compromised organization just like Prime TV with a hidden agenda for regime change.
Without prejudice and as food for thought, LAZ must take time to ponder the following points: -*
• Why is LAZ mute on the irrefutable fact that the media space has continued to exponentially expand under the tenure of PF?
• In terms of media freedoms, it appears LAZ has chosen to ignore the fact that it is the PF Government that operationalized the IBA act, which had been in limbo for years. As result of the PF’s media in diversity policy prompting plurality, more than 70 TV and Radio licenses have been issued- INCLUDING PRIME TV – This level/ dimension was only dreamed of under previous regimes.
• Freedom” should not be confused with reckless anarchy. How is it that LAZ conveniently kept mute when Prime TV broadcast exaggerated and inflammatory “news” about “Armed police pursues HH for 8 hours in the bush” during the Kaoma by-election? This is just but one of the many examples of the type of reckless partisan Prime TV reporting that could have plunged this nation into chaos.
• Has LAZ bothered to investigate how one of their former star reporters Kalani Muchima complained about the risks he was subjected to in doing unethical and unorthodox things at the behest of the proprietor?
Dr. Joze Manda is a Political Analyst based in Lusaka