Independent Broadcasting Authority appointments displeasing – MLC

Independent Broadcasting Authority appointments displeasing – MLC

The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) in Zambia has expressed displeasure with the appointment of non-media persons to head the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

Speaking in a statement, MLC Chairperson Enock Ngoma says the appointment of Ms Mabel Mung’omba, a non-media person as Chairperson of the IBA Board, to preside over matters of media regulation and media sustenance, 54 years after independence, is disappointing and an affront to efforts to promote professionalism the media industry.

Mr. Ngoma adds that the IBA has a nine-member board and out of these, only Sr. Beatrice Mwansa has a media background. The rest, excluding the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Mr Amos Malupenga, who is on the Board by virtue of him being PS, have no professional and academic media background and experience. Other board members with no media experience include the Vice-Chairperson Chalimba Phiri, Claire Limbwambwa, Margaret Siwale, Enita Hamatumbika, and Clement Ng’andu.

“For a long time, the MLC has noted, with regret, the appointment of individuals to preside over matters of media professionalism and ethical conduct of the media sector, an industry where they have no academic or professional experience. Non-media personnel from diverse professions have been appointed into media sensitive positions of authority and their reigns have not been beneficial to the growth and improvement of the media industry for a long time,” Ngoma says.

The MLC argues that if media personnel were appointed in such positions, they would be objective in every sense adding that according to the IBA Act No. 17 of 2002 with various amendments, the IBA through its Board is responsible for regulating the broadcast industry in Zambia by ensuring the promotion of a pluralistic and diverse broadcasting industry.

The functions of the IBA include among others, to grant, to renew, to suspend and cancel radio and television licenses. The IBA is mandated to set professional media and ethical standards to be followed by all radio and TV stations as well as monitor licence holders to ensure that they are compliant.

The Committee has noted with regret that the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya continues to appoint non-media professionals to key media-related boards. The Minister is on record emphasising that journalism is a profession that should have standards. If journalism is a profession, why would she relegate it to a level where the conduct of its professionals is judged by non-media professionals? Zambia currently has over 400 non-political and eminent Zambians who are experienced and well trained in various areas of media practice, media law, media finance and journalism.

The MLC therefore calls upon Ms. Mung’omba to relinquish her post as Board Chairperson to the only media person in the Board, Sr. Beatrice Mwansa. It has further calls upon journalists in Zambia to safeguard their profession and interests by promoting the participation of experienced and knowledgeable media personnel in structures created for the media sector.

The Media Liaison Committee is an umbrella body of media bodies in Zambia including MISA Zambia, Bloggers of Zambia, Free Press Initiative, Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance, and Bloggers Network among others.

About MISA Zambia

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.