For Immediate Release Friday, March 15, 2019
LUSAKA – MISA Zambia has welcomed the pronouncement by the government to enact a law that will grant the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) legal mandate to regulate Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation (ZNBC).
As an organisation that advocates for media freedom, we fully welcome this move as we believe it will moderate irregularities that exist between the private broadcast media and public broadcast media.
The pronouncement by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo is a step into levelling the broadcast playing field especially that the IBA will now be able to scrutinise the national broadcaster and this will greatly assist in transforming ZNBC into a true public service broadcaster that serves the interests of all Zambians.
The IBA in its current state has very little legal capacity to regulate ZNBC except for the private broadcasting media houses.
While the move to enhance IBA legal mandate over ZNBC is a welcome move, MISA Zambia is concerned with government’s continued interest in enacting laws to regulate media ethics in the country.
As MISA Zambia we believe a non-statutory self-regulation mechanism is the best regulation for the media compared to statutory regulation.
The media should be given leverage to formulate its own regulatory system so as to allow it carry out its duties without fear or intimidation taking into account its position in society as the fourth estate.
We believe statutory regulation will gravely affect media freedom, increase censorship and ultimately affect freedom of expression and the right of citizens to information which is vital for democracy to thrive and good governance.
Owing to the recent suspension of Prime Television by the IBA, MISA Zambia doubts the intentions behind the said regulatory law.
Furthermore, while we welcome the announcement by President Edgar Lungu on preventing cyber space abuse, we wish to restate that such laws should not impact freedom of expression, the right of citizens to assemble online and access information as they are vital to good governance and human rights protection in the country.
Our appeal to government and all policy makers is that the development of laws and policies should always take into consideration fundamental rights of freedom of expression, right to information and that for the media if our national plans of attaining development that leaves no one behind are to be attained.
Chairperson MISA Zambia