MISA Zambia has launched its third quarter State of the Media Report for 2021.
Speaking during the launch, MISA Zambia interim Chairperson Fr. Barnabas Simatende says that MISA Zambia is hopeful that the goodwill shown by the new regime will go a long way in ensuring media freedom.
The United Party for National Development (UPND) led government has made pronouncements on enacting the Access to Information Bill and also on media regulation as captured in the report.
Some of the key findings of the report include;
The legal environment did not record any significant developments or recorded incidents of application of archaic laws against the media outlets. Notably, a victory was scored when the IBA granted Prime Television a broadcasting license, exactly one year after the Station ceased broadcasting due to what began as a misunderstanding with the government on COVID public service announcements, later escalating. On a positive note, discussions resumed with regard to the process of enacting the Media Regulation Bill under a “statutory-self regulation” model, described by some as a misnomer.
The economic environment posted a more positive outlook compared to the second quarter. The quarter witnessed a notable improvement in economic activity, appreciation of the currency (which translated into lower cost of inputs), stable electricity supply and increased political advertising and sponsorship. While developments in the quarter were mainly positive, a high level of uncertainty remains with regard to the sustainability of this economic trajectory, with certain variables resuming an upward trend at the close of the quarter, albeit marginal.
The technological environment was stable, save the abrupt social media blockade experienced during the polls. The blockade cast aspersions on the country’s record with regard to respect for freedom of expression and access to information. On a positive note, the quarter witnessed the application of various virtual technology applications by media practitioners and other stakeholders to mitigate the restrictions necessitated by the COVID pandemic. An increase in the number of media houses was also noted.
The report shows that there has been no significant development in comparison to the previous quarter in most of the key thematic areas. Overall, the third quarter continued on a more positive outlook than the second quarter given certain improvements, despite isolated negative developments.