The Media Institute Southern Africa has welcomed the pronouncement by the government to enact a law that will grant the Independent Broadcasting Authority legal mandate to regulate the Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation.
As an organization that advocates for media freedom, MISA Zambia says it fully welcomes this move as they believe it will moderate irregularities that exist between the private broadcast media and public broadcast media.
MISA Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale said the pronouncement by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo is a step into leveling the broadcast playing field especially that the IBA will now be able to scrutinize the national broadcaster and this will greatly assist in transforming ZNBC into a true public service broadcaster that serves the interests of all Zambians.
Ms. Mwale said the IBA in its current state has very little legal capacity to regulate ZNBC except for the private broadcasting media houses.
She noted that while the move to enhance IBA legal mandate over ZNBC is a welcome move, MISA Zambia is concerned with government’s continued interest in enacting laws to regulate media ethics in the country.
Ms. Mwale said a non-statutory self-regulation mechanism is the best regulation for the media compared to statutory regulation.
She said the media should be given leverage to formulate its own regulatory system so as to allow it carry out its duties without fear or intimidation taking into account its position in society as the fourth estate.
She said statutory regulation will gravely affect media freedom, increase censorship and ultimately affect freedom of expression and the right of citizens to information which is vital for democracy to thrive and good governance.
Ms. Mwale said owing to the recent suspension of Prime Television by the IBA, MISA Zambia doubts the intentions behind the said regulatory law.
She added that while MISA welcomes the announcement by President Edgar Lungu on preventing cyber space abuse, we wish to restate that such laws should not impact freedom of expression, the right of citizens to assemble online and access information as they are vital to good governance and human rights protection in the country.
Ms. Mwale has since appealed to government and all policy makers that the development of laws and policies should always take into consideration fundamental rights of freedom of expression, right to information and that for the media if our national plans of attaining development that leaves no one behind are to be attained.