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Zambia Alert: Don’t issue nationwide coverage broadcast licences to private media

On 28 October 2013, Zambian President Micheal Sata castigated Information Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Mwamba for approving nationwide coverage of broadcast licences to two private radio stations and has since moved him to Cabinet in the same capacity.

According to media reports monitored by MISA Zambia, the president ordered the revocation of the two licences granted to radio Phoenix and QFM radio stations were recently issued with nationwide coverage broadcast licences.

 

The President asked the PS why he thought it was prudent to issue nationwide broadcast licences to private media when the previous government did not. He asked him how many permanent secretaries had been in his position before he was appointed to the position.

 

 “You Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba, do you think all the Permanent Secretaries before you were stupid not to issue the licence to Radio Phoenix? You want HH [Hakainde Hichilema a president of the second largest opposition party in Zambia] to be using the same radio station while sit…

Are you the only clever permanent secretary? Was the previous government foolish?” Sata continued but Mwamba tried to defend himself by saying “Your Excellency when I came to the ministry, I found a number of pending applications on the time from my predecessor…no ! Sata interjected…do you know why they were pending? Are you aware that Radio Phoenix has been bought by outsiders and that can endanger national integrity. Do you know why previous government had only allowed ZNBC to be the only national broadcaster? Mr. Sata asked.

 

President Sata singled out Radio Phoenix which he said is keenly used by the opposition and especially that it has sold some of its shareholding to a foreign entity. He said government can only issue licenses to broadcast nationwide to missionary stations.

 

President Michael Sata expressed concern over the impact that such issuance of national coverage licenses to private owned commercial radio stations will have on the country’s integrity.

 

He was speaking shortly before chairing a cabinet meeting at State House this morning [28 October 2013]. President Sata said the issuance of nationwide licenses to Radio Qfm and Radio Phoenix by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) may have been done without proper consultation.

 

The Head of State explained that the reason the national broadcasting license has been left only to ZNBC alone has been to protect the integrity of the state from possible careless statements that may come from political leaders with ill intentions.

 

And speaking to the press after the pre cabinet meeting, Mr. Mwamba said that the IBA will convene an urgent Licensing Committee Meeting to urgently resolve the concerns raised by the President.

 

He said the issuance of nationwide licence that might be affected will be Radio Phoenix and QFM.

 

Mr. Mwamba recently announced that government had issued nationwide licences to QFM, Radio Phoenix and Christian Voice and Catholic TV.

 

During elections Mr. Sata widely used the private radio stations to campaign for his election and and promised them nationwide coverage.

 

And Radio Phoenix proprietor Errol Hickey said he was disappointed to be labelled as a biased media organization when his station has tried its level best to offer balanced media coverage to all political parties and interest groups.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Jane Chirwa: MISA Zambia Information and Research Officer

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MISA's vision is of a Southern African region in which the media enjoys freedom of expression, independent from political, economic and commercial interests, pluralism of views and options. Our vision is of a region where members of society, individually or collectively are free to express themselves through any media of their choice without hindrance of any kind. A region too, where access to information must be unhindered and where information is readily available.

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MISA is a dynamic, member-driven regional organisation with national chapters coordinated by a professional secretariat which seeks - through media monitoring, training, capacity building, research and the distribution of information - to foster free, independent and diverse media throughout Southern Africa in the service of democracy and development as stated in the Windhoek Decleration and the African Charter on Broadcasting.