Amnesty International has said the Independent Broadcasting Authority’s decision to suspend privately owned Prime TV’s broadcast licence is a ploy to muzzle independent media.
The IBA yesterday announced the suspension of Prime TV’s licence for 30 days on allegations of “unprofessional broadcasting” that had the potential to cause violence and anger in the country, according to its secretary and director general Josephine Mapoma.
Mapoma said the decision was due to Prime TV’s failure to comply with conditions of its broadcasting licence, further directing that the television station’s journalist undergo an in-house training in basic journalism and script writing during the time of the suspension.
The IBA has also suspended the licence for Valley FM, revoked two licences and granted over 20 to different stations across the country.
Amnesty International Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena, in response to the IBA’s suspension of Prime TV’s licence, stated that the decision was meant to undermine the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.
“It is clearly intended to send a chilling message that journalists need to self-censor or face dire consequences. This unlawful suspension must be immediately lifted to allow Prime TV to continue telling the Zambian story as it unfolds. Zambia can only benefit from the plurality of media voices,” stated Muchena in a statement issued by Amnesty International Southern Africa media manager Robert Shivambu.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority informed Prime TV of its suspension for 30 days earlier today, citing failure to comply with the conditions of its broadcasting license by the station.