IBA Needs Reform-Media

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By JOHN SAKALA
The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has noted with sadness a notice by Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to all broadcast media houses to furnish the IBA with recordings broadcast media programmes every two weeks.

MLC Chairperson Enock Ngoma said the notice is another example of the increasing anti-media activities towards the broadcast media sector by the IBA, which if left unchecked will kill the media sector.

Mr Ngoma said MLC also notes with sadness the poor timing of these IBA actions that happen during the months that journalists are either celebrating world press freedom or deliberating on important matters of improving the media sector.

He said last year in May during celebrations of Press Freedom period, the IBA suspended licences of 12 selected media houses and revoked the license of Copperbelt TV.

“This year around the same period the IBA has suspended licences of Prime TV, Valley FM of Nyimba, Ngoma Radio in Luanshya and Kafue Radio of Lusaka. The IBA’s notice for the media to provide media recordings every two weeks come barely a week after the Zambian media returned from a two- day Insaka where momentous decisions were made at improving the media regulatory framework and harmonising existing media regulations including the IBA and the ZNBC Acts.

“Among the issues deliberated on included the complete overhaul of the IBA system to make broadcast media self-regulated like any print and online media. The MLC therefore find this notice which falls outside the IBA’s mandate and statutes as a clear provocation and harassment of the media sector. The MLC finds this notice also anti-media and aimed at killing the media industry through the unnecessary inconvenience and added cost of recording and shipping these media recordings to Lusaka from far flung areas as Mwinilunga, Mwandi, Nakonde and Lundazi just to mention a few. The MLC also find this directive an unplanned cost to the poor community radio and TV stations,” he said.

Mr Ngoma said that it is the duty of the IBA to spend money monitoring media activities through their Inspection Department but not their mandate to pass on this cost to poor and overregulated broadcast media sector, especially community radio stations.

He has since called on the Ministry of Information and Broadcast Services to provide clear oversight on the IBA and appointing new IBA Board to modernise IBA and give it a new management team that understands the role of broadcast media in good governance and democracy in the new era of media freedoms and self-regulation.

“We view this as a matter of urgency. We also need the ministry to repeal the IBA Act and remove anti-media growth clauses that restrict media freedoms, income generation activities, editorial independence and professionalism, especially among community media.

“Transform the IBA and make them a protector of media freedoms and media professionalism in these times of media attacks and journalists harassments in the line of duty amidst hostile political and public environment. Harmonise the IBA and ZNBC Acts to allow for statutory media self-regulation of the Broadcast Sector and also to compel the IBA to use technology and cloud services to create online mail drop boxes for the media to quarterly save their recordings for any interested party and researchers to access at no cost to the media,” he said..

He said ML through its newly formed Media Self-Regulation Technical Committee stands ready to move forward the agenda of media self-regulation and instilling media peer review and ethical conduct in the performance of the media sector towards serving the Zambian public as its watchdog.

Mr Ngoma said MLC and through its newly formed Media Self-Regulation Technical Committee also stands ready to engage with the IBA, Ministry of Information and Broadcast Services and the Media Houses in moving forward this agenda of actualising the Golden Peacock Media Insaka resolution of media self-regulation backed by law.