Information Minister Dora Siliya says government has continued working with both the public and private sector to ensure that the legislation under IBA does not hamper the growth of the media industry.

Speaking when she officiated at the Northern Province expo media awards Friday evening, Siliya noted that a number of newspaper media houses were suffering financially due to emerging online platforms.

“The government in its commitment to press freedom so far has issued over 115 radio licenses and most of these licenses are community radios which have become the real cornerstone for every district. With now digitalisation, we have seen over 50 TV broadcasting licenses being given. I do know that most of the private television stations are struggling and I have continued to urge the parties both the public broadcaster and the private stations to continue to talk and come to a logical commercial agreement. And I am aware that with new media, most of the newspapers, we have about ten newspaper publications so far but most of them have a lot of financial challenges, challenged with new online media,” Siliya said.

“With the IBA overseeing media houses, we continue to recognise that there are some lacunas in the legislation, in technical capacity but we have continued to work closely with the media, private and public sector to ensure that the legislation in place under the IBA does not hamper the growth of the media industry. Very soon, we will be taking to Parliament the Access to Information Bill which is the citizens bill to avail the citizens the right to information as required from government and other government institutions.”

And Siliya said the purpose of holding provincial expos was to relook at the comparative advantages of the different provinces.

“It was government that took the initiative to begin the provincial expos and these expos, the whole aim is to have accelerated development because of decentralisation that government instead of focusing on national level, it begins to focusing on provinces and look at the comparative advantages on those provinces. The whole idea of these expos is not just to hold them for their sake, it is that they must result in investment, they must result in us taking advantage of the comparative advantages of these various provinces, so that it must result in jobs being created and in wealth being created and in that process, the media is at the centre,” Siliya said.

Speaking at the same event, Northern Province Minister Brian Mundubile acknowledged the role of the media and added that it was through the media that history about the World War 1 was re-written.

“Northern Province will never be the same again and thanks to the transformation agenda by the Patriotic Front party that has brought about these expos and other initiatives that bring about development and of course this great team is led by His Excellency the President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. We are very lucky that we recognised the role of the media very early and engaged the media right from the start. To the media I would like to say thank you and well done. As Northern Province we are proud to have rewritten the history. The world now know that World War I ended in Zambia. For the past 100 years, it was believed that the World War I ended in Europe and that the war ended on November 11, 1918. We went all out in partnership with the media to correct and restate the facts and the facts are that World War ended in Zambia on the 25th of November 1918, and in Mbala in particular. So without the media, it was not possible to have corrected the facts,” said Mundubile.

Other people who attended the ceremony included Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale, Director of Public Prosecution Lillian Siyuni, Northern Province PF chairperson Lazarous Bwalya, Chinsali MP member of parliament Kalalwe Mukosa, Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje and his Northern counterpart Elias Kamanga, former ZNBC director general Chibamba Kanyama, and former Lusaka mayor Fisho Mwale among others.

Among the journalists who scooped the awards included Felix Nkinke of New Vision newspaper who walked away with the best overall award, Joseph Phiri of ZNBC radio 2 who scooped the best radio journalist award, Njenje Chizu of Prime TV with best television award and Winnie Mwelwa and Cindy Sipula both of ZANIS.

The best blogger award went to Kelvin Sichizya a freelance journalist while the best local language journalist award went to Mary Munasokwe of ZANIS and Lombe Musonda of ZNBC Bemba section.

Others were Mary Munasokwe, Christine Mwaba from Times of Zambia who won the best print media award and Francis Lungu of Zambia Daily Mail as well as Nkweto Mumba of ZANIS who scooped the Minister’s award while radio Mano won the best overall institution coverage award.

And according to the organisers of the awards, the sponsors of the awards were ZESCO, multi Choice Zambia, Topstar, Japan International tobacco leaf, Mpanga Yamambwe Lodge, and the Lusaka Provincial administration among others.