Muvi TV offices left vacant after Police forced staff out last night
Muvi TV offices left vacant after Police forced staff out last night

The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the closure of Muvi TV, Komboni Radio and Radio Itezhi Tezhi by the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

In a statement, CPJ has since appealed to the Zambian Government to return the three broadcasting stations back on air.

“Cancelling the licenses of some of Zambia’s leading broadcasters on such vague grounds as preserving ‘national peace’ smacks of censorship,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said from New York.

“The IBA should immediately reinstate the broadcasting licenses of three media outlets it revoked, and police should drop all charges against four media workers arrested when police sealed the offices of the country’s largest privately owned television station.”

The Independent Broadcasting Authority on Monday suspended the licenses of Muvi TV, the country’s largest privately owned television station, as well as Komboni Radio and Radio Itezhi Tezhi, which are also privately owned.

The IBA said in a statement that the three were guilty of professional misconduct and “posed a risk to national peace and stability” before and after the August 11 presidential election although the IBA did not provide further details.

Milner Katolo, a lawyer for Muvi TV and Komboni Radio, told CPJ that police arrested four Muvi TV workers.

The workers were arrested after the police and officials from the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) took control of the station’s office in Lusaka on August 22.

They were charged with “criminal trespassing,” he said.

“The arrest of four media workers on charges of trespassing on their own premises would be laughable were it not so outrageous. We call on Zambian regulators to return Muvi TV, Komboni Radio, and Radio Itezhi Tezhi to the airwaves immediately, and drop the spurious charges against John Nyendwa, Mubanga Katyeka, Joe Musakanya, and William Mwenge,” Ms Quintal said.

Costa Mwansa, managing editor at Muvi TV, told CPJ that those arrested were John Nyendwa, Mubanga Katyeka, Joe Musakanya, and William Mwenge, that police released them today, but that they still face trespassing charges.

Mr Katolo, the lawyer, told CPJ that the IBA gave his clients no justification for suspending their licenses. “We do not have sufficient particulars to respond to a charge of unprofessional conduct,” he said.

The lawyer said the IBA Amendment Act, which details the regulator’s procedures, requires the IBA to give broadcasters notice of a complaint and to give them an opportunity to respond before suspending their licenses. He said the IBA had told him that the broadcasters would be able to present their case on September 14.

Mr Katolo said Muvi TV and Komboni Radio would appeal to the Ministry of Information based on the IBA Amendment Act, though no minister of information has been appointed, pending the resolution of a court case disputing the outcome of August 11 presidential election.

Since his clients did not have “the luxury of time,” he said, he was also preparing court papers.

IBA Chairperson Josephine Mapoma rejected allegations that the IBA’s actions were politically motivated or that it had acted unlawfully.

She told CPJ that she could not disclose details of the violations until the broadcasters appeared before the IBA, as she did not want to be seen to prejudge the issue.

Given the gravity of the alleged infractions, she said, the IBA had invoked Section 29(1) (j) of the IBA Amendment Act which allowed it to suspend licenses pending a hearing, she said.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. FPs IBA Cadre Macomb should realise Wembley how they link with PF. Remember , we’re watching you.

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    • This fake body of journalists should know the seriousness of faking stories and inciting people to kill each other. Movie was not closed just becoz it was taking sides. It was closed becoz they were faking stories and inciting people which is very dangerous for our country.

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  2. Before you protect someone please educate them on ethics of journalism so that they don’t take sides and also not to Base too much on there opinion

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    • Take this thugs and Dictators to court.Zambians wake up its not about HH but our freedoms.Remember Mugabe when he saw that he was not popular he brought the issue of white farmers to win an election many blacks were happy but were are they now on the streats protesting against Mugabe for being a dictator but its too late the damage has been done.Lungu after sensing he massed up the economy he rashes out using tribal sentiments of WAKO IN WAKO and Tongas are bad,just to win an election.this does not remove the poverty or hunger soon zambians will demand for is blood.

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    • @Bemb boy, private news media is not obligated to NOT take sides. That’s why they’re called PRIVATE. They can choose whoever they want to side with, depending on their ideology. You may not like their point of view, but they’re completely free to side with whoever they want. In the USA, FOX news is conservative, and so they heavily lean towards the Republican Party. CNN is midway. MSNBC is liberal so they heavily lean towards the Democratic Party. In Zambia, everyone knows that ZNBC is currently leaning towards PF. If you believe MUVI TV is not balanced, start your own TV station to counterbalance that. But you cannot control what they can or cannot do, as long as they’re not inciting violence, peddling nudity, using or promoting profanity. And if you feel slandered or…

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    • (Continued)….libeled by them, the courts are there for that. Otherwise any effort to silence them is infringing on freedom of the press rights.

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  3. Zambians! Zambians! please wake up! The dictatarial wheels are chrurning slowly and taking everything in their wake and you are busy singing songs of praise for the PF. Come-on! wake up and smell the coffee! This is no small issue in this day and age. Information is vital and free flow of it is welcome in any democratic country like ours. The incumbent president Mr E. C Lungu is a lawyer by profession for f00lsake! Do you want this country to be like Zimbabwe the previous breadbasket of Africa turned into a basketcase by Mugabe or Uganda the former pearl of Africa turned into a pale of Africa by Museveni? Think!

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  4. Where was this committee when Kalusa was insulting a ZNBC journalist who was trying to balance a land grabbing story in Namwala?

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  5. Lungu is definitely not gunning for the Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance……he will just loot his way into retirement.

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  6. WHERE DOES COMMITTEE GO WHEN THEIR JOURNALISTS ARE REPORTING UNETHICALLY? THEY GO TO SLEEP, ONLY TO WAKE UP WHEN THE INSTITUTIONS ARE CLOSED! JOURNALISM IS A PROFESSION LIKE THE LAW, ENGINEERING, AND ANYBODY OR ANY INSTITUTION BEHAVING UNETHICALLY, THE DUTY OF THE MOTHER BODY TO DISCIPLINE SUCH PERSON OR INSTITUTION. DON’T COME TO THE PARTY AFTER THE MUSIC HAS STARTED PLAYING, COME BEFORE!

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  7. I thought the suspension is by fellow journalists and not the government. Is IBA Government? Just in case am missing something

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  8. There can be no freedom without freedom of speech……shutting down the media because they are biased is not a good reason in a democracy. Obama is constantly maligned by Fox News and many other right-wing news outlets but he does not push for their closure. In fact he encourages such critics to continue, not in Africa or Zambia in particular. Poor and weak leadership that is scared of their own shadows will jump at every dissenting sound.

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  9. Sata picked the most useless people to assist him on his mission to turn Zambia into another Zimbabwe. Now it’s happening.

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  10. Sorry thid is not America. In Africa alarmist media houses have been the cause of wars and only an irresponsible government can allow this

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  11. This is foolishness at it’s best, where was this same committee when the said broadcasting firms were being unethical in their reporting? Have you ever listened to phone in programs on komboni radio? Caders call and insult the presidency and the uneducated people at the station will just let it be. Compare the professionalism with Qfm then you will understand what am talking about.

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