Times of Zambia can be saved

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Times of Zambia Staff participating in this year Labour Day celebrations theme: Achieving National Development Through Productive Decent Work Sustainable Job Creation and Social Justice
Times of Zambia Staff participating in this year Labour Day celebrations theme: Achieving National Development Through Productive Decent Work Sustainable Job Creation and Social Justice

By Chibamba Kanyama

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dora Siliya is quoted in News Diggers as having said Times of Zambia is insolvent. She never minced any words in describing the situation: ‘I cannot sugar-coat it for you; Times of Zambia is in a bad situation, it is in a very bad situation. In fact, at this point it is insolvent, bankruptcy is the word…We are saying that Times of Zambia, your problems are real there and no matter how much Government puts in there, if the order is not working, ….the equation is not going to work.’

This is a strong message that places the newspaper in a worse off position as all creditors will now be panicking. Times is now between the rock and the hard place: not making the decision now implies the liabilities will worsen by the day; a serious erosion to shareholder funds and taxpayer obligations. It also means deciding to close the paper will call for release of huge funds to retrenched staff, honouring of other creditor obligations immediately (possibly the same amount of money required to turnaround the company). If the company is insolvent, it means even if the paper sold all its assets today, it cannot pay Napsa, ZRA, creditors and employees.

WAY FORWARD

Government, through the IDC, should make the decision sooner than later. By implication, the Minister is saying Times of Zambia cannot survive in its current state even if new funds were injected (possibly the same for other many parastatals). The IDC, the current parent company to Times of Zambia, should absorb all current liabilities of the paper, embark on a turnaround strategy, undertake a feasibility study on business viability, invite equity partners (who will leverage the long rich history and goodwill of the paper), reduce the payroll and encourage a much more independent editorial policy.

Despite a huge shift in the media market in favour of diversity in media platforms, with extra innovation, Times of Zambia is viable. We should appreciate that Times of Zambia, like any other parastatal, is in its current state largely to non-recapitalisation from inception. The newspaper industry survives on the back of investment and re-investment in a five-year circle. IDC, acting independently, has among the best technocrats to make a firm decision on Times of Zambia.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Who cares if it’s insolvent /bankrupt or not? To hell with it. We don’t need it. Sheer waste of taxpayer’s money. No one reads this disgusting paper anymore

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    • Just imagine 9 months without pay and you still praise Lazy Lungu, just hoping he appoints you like Anthony in an embassy…these people would be better served in the private sector with such dedication to duty!!

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    • The PF in the years ECL has been president has seen more Zambians lose formal employment than under any other president in Zambia’s history. I hope the electorate is watching. #2021

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    • Times of Zambia only has a circulation of 7000. Zambians don’t buy propaganda newspapers. Zambian companies don’t advertize in propaganda newspapers.

      Solution is to allow Times to be unbiased & publish real news, not all the time its “Edgar Chagwa Lungu has planted a Tree”, “Edgar Chagwa Lungu was Jogging”, etc.

      Same applies to DeadNBC. That’s how they got sold to tu ma Cho-Cho-Lee.

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    • Chibamba, stop playing communist politics.
      Times of Zambia and Daily Mail have been insolvent from times immemorial. Their reporters make ends meet through covering private sectors’ biased useless news, paid through transport money, lunch money, drink money.

      The days of parastatals and that too in media are gone. Zambia does not have resources to fund loss-making and parasitic parastatals.

      IDC was, is and will remain a bad idea.

      Its failed in private sector executives are busy making monies from solar deals with private sector, financing and borrowing deals’ cuts.
      Stop hallucinating and come out to real world. PF has failed. Socialists will fail. Only hope is a disciplined businessman who can prune the deadwood in civil service, cut off fat army, air force and instead…

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    • This is also true about Zampost the chaps are busy stealing our mail and management keeps yapping about strategies.
      In 5 yearsvthe company has had 4 directors of operations that tells you the levels of choas!

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    • Chibamba Kanyama sounds like someone looking for a job to turn around T-o-Z. That is why he has avoided calling a spade a spade. If the company is insolvent, it’s illegal to continue trading. This is in the Companies Act of Zambia. Why’s CK not saying this? Govt liability in the event of failure of the T-o-Z is limited by share capital. That is the essence of limited liability concept they teach you in business sch. Why should govt assume liabilities of T-o-Z beyond the share capital as if it has issued a guarantee for all debt including employee benefits? Why does this seem not to apply to state-owned companies? Why is CK not saying it? The paper has a good share of advertising, the lifeblood of any newspaper. Where does the money go? Why is CK not asking this question?

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    • Mr. Kanyama, you are being like call Zambian economist who cannot b forthright with the hard facts. Times of Zambia’s problem is not recapitalization but lack of understanding their market and providing a product that the market demands. You can’t get people to buy a newspaper that’s a vuvuzela for the PF. Remember, about half of the voters voted for the UPND and some of those who voted for PF are also looking for credible sources of news. The Times is not just meeting the customers’ expectations and, if they continue, the government will have to keep pumping in money to keep them afloat. Let’s tell it like it is

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  2. Times together with Daily Mail should have been sold off a long time ago….govt has no business in running a paper, how can employees be working for 9 months without pay: this is not a business shut it down and pay off the workers!!

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  3. All parastatals in Zambia are technically insolvent, including Zamtel.
    The first thing is to find out why the paper is insolvent before embarking on recapitalisation. Otherwise the moneys will sink again.

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  4. In recent months, Times has churned out less propaganda than Zambia Daily Mail. This explains why the Minister will hve nothing to do with it (yet ZNBC is on life support machine by the same government). Well articulated piece CK.

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  5. The fact that IDC has been mentioned as the institution that can save Times of Zambia from collapse, that it itself is a contradictory statement.Both of these are government institutions who rely on the same government for funding. It is therefore a paradox. For as long as government wants to have a mouth for propaganda to hoodwink and misinform the masses on developmental issues the status quo will remain the same. This institution should be privatized, let government remain with 51% and let the other 49% be owned by private individuals or companies and make it operate like a professional institution balanced in their covering and advertisement initiatives, otherwise it will remain a white elephant.

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    • Kanyama is not a businessman …I don’t know why he even writes these articles when he is tip toeing around issues…this company is gone no need to be ethical, if the wolves come I doubt its assets will even pay off its debts.

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    • Sell the land on which Daily Mail and TOZ are sitting.
      Pay with that money the employees their benefits and the creditors (whatever is left after that) and close these leeches off.

      Government has no business to be in business.

      Napsa is a conduit to steal, ZCCM-IH is a conduit to enrich fat executives, IDC is ZIMCO reincarnated, Zamtel, ZISC etc. are all white elephants.
      Close and move on.

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    • Boniface Hachibola – when a company is liquidated unfortunately its not the employees at the top of the list to be paid off!!

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  6. If a company is insolvent and continues to trade whilst insolvent its directors can be legally pursued for the debt and can face legal (court) sanctions. If IDC is the controlling entity and HE ECL is the head of the IDC then it is legally possible that the responsible person , at law , is our President

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  7. All print media around the world are in the same predicament . The advert of the internet has literally killed the print media that depend on the readership to buy papers and companies to advertise in their papers. Most print media outlets have had to adapt by getting internet users to subscribe to receive their papers online.

    The fact that the state owned papers are used for government and party propaganda has contributed to the downfall of sales for these papers. They are viewed in negative light by the general public.

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    • Yes, they are in same predicament but have adapted …they are now on social media where the drip feed you news and withhold the juicy news on broadsheet….Times has not got the money to pay guest columnists these newspapers have, this Times Printpak should have been sold 10 years ago when it was worth something not now.

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  8. Dora is right, no one in his right mind will waste his precious Kwacha to buy useless Times of Zambia newspaper.

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  9. From 1991 we have been asking for Times, Daily Mail and ZNBC to be privatised but successive governments after successive government NEVER want to listen. They enjoy the little propaganda they can bask in from these media. They want something to hang on to for propaganda purposes but in the process govt has run these companies to the ground. Had these things been privatised they would have flourished. Cant politicians listen? They talk too much!

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  10. When newspapers spend time reporting on politicians’ comings and goings instead of what the citizens are doing to advance the country they have to be let to fail. Newspapers are supposed to track progress on development projects around the country in order to keep the politicians honest. This requires driving out to the field to monitor progress and report back. But most reporter don’t even have transportation to go and get the real news. As such they mingle and bump each other in town and reporting the same news everyday. Read one paper and you know what is in every paper in town. These papers depend only on reporting what politicians say each day. They need to report on development progress reports to keep the politicians awake.

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    • Very true my brother. They are newspapers without initiative. I wonder why anyone in government is surprised that they are folding up

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  11. But isn’t this what happened to the post. It couldn’t pay it’s taxes and you closed it so now what more with the times that have not only defaulted on taxes and all statutory obligations such as Napsa, workmans comp. Rates, water, etc but has even defaulted on salaries. What is good for the goose must surely be good for the gander.

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  12. The Newspaper that helped me to write and respond to HaNuisance must be made to stay afloat!

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