IBA suspend Prime TV for 30 days 

By Staff Reporter

INDEPENDENT Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has suspended Prime Television operating licence for 30 days for exhibiting ‘unprofessional elements’ in their programming.

In a briefing in Lusaka today IBA Board Secretary Josephine Mapoma accused Prime TV of having been broadcasting unbalanced coverage, opinionated news, material likely to incite violence and use of derogatory language.

Mapoma said during the suspension of the station it was expected to conduct some in house training on basic journalism ethics and news script writing for the journalists.

“Exhibiting an unprofessional element in its broadcasting through imbalanced coverage, opinions news materials likely to bring or incite violence and use of derogatory language,” said Mapoma.

And in a letter dated March 4, 2019 to Prime TV Managing Director Gerald Shawa, Mapoma stated that the board decided to suspend the licence with immediate effect following a hearing called by the IBA on Friday last week.

“The suspension is pursuant to Section 29(l) (i) and (k) which provide that the board may suspend a broadcast licence if: (l) the broadcasting licensee has failed, inspite written notice, to comply with the conditions of the broadcasting licence; (k) the board considers it appropriate in the circumstances of the case to do so,” she stated.

Mapoma further informed Shawa that the signal distributors had been notified of the suspension.

Meanwhile, IBA board chairperson Chanda Kasolo has disclosed that the decision comes after thorough consultations and engagement with other stakeholders.

Kasolo said if there was any interference which he did not agree with, the noble thing he could have done was to resign and not allow to be used by anyone.

“The Independent Broadcasting Authority has since issued 22 radio licences, suspended two which includes Prime TV and Valley FM and revoked two licences of Ngoma and Kafue radio stations,” said Kasolo

On February 26, 2019 IBA had given Prime Television network a 14-day altimatum to apologise for ‘biased reportage’ to PF General Secretary, Davies Mwila.

“We are in receipt of a letter dated 18th February, 2019 from the Patriotic Front Secretary General Davies Mwila in which he complained of a biased and unethical reportage as captioned to the Authority ” said Mapoma.

She stated that the complaint of inaccurate, biased, unethical, inflamatory, sensational and misleading news was escalated to the Authority by Mwila after not been satisfied with the response of February 16, 2019.

“We wish to mention that the allegations levelled against your station are serious and the Authority investgated the complaint in accordance with the IBA Act of 2002 section 33 to 38, which provide procedure for lodging and resolving complaints against broadcasting stations. The Authority is satisfied that the complaint was justified,”  Mapoma stated, in a letter to  Shawa.

She stated that after investigating Mwila’s compalints about the TV station, it was concluded that Prime TV had made several breaches of the IBA Act as well as to its own editorial guidelines.

The Director General conteded that the headline and the story suggesting that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s life was still in danger in Western Province had the potential to cause supporters of the UPND to be angered and raise agaisnt the Police and the Patriotic Front members.

She stated that the story complained of was not balanced in the sense that it showed the other side of the story.

“This was to mean that the Patriotic Front’s voice was missing and the coverage lacked evidence to show that the station even attempted to speak to the PF”   Mapoma stated.

IBA had since directed Prime TV to write a letter of apology to Mwila and copy the Authority.

“We expect this letter of apology to be executed within 14 days based on the provisions of the IBA Act of 2002, particularly section 5 (2) (F), which sanctions the Authority to issue any or all broadcasters, adviosry opinion relating to broadcasting stations and ethical conduct in broadcasting and wish to advise that in your quest for content or scoop, headlines and news stories should not at any time be sensational and biased,” Mapoma stated.

She  also advised the TV network to insure their news stories, sources are backed by facts and credibility and consider having an in-house training on basic journalism ethics and principles and news script writting to its journalists.

In January this year, Mwila put up a stunt when he sent away two Prime TV reporter and camera person Njenje Chizu and Toliwe Banda from covering his media briefing.

Mwila claimed that Prime television had not been airing the PF activities despite reporters covering the events.