IBA Director General Josephine Mapoma has threatened to take the conflict between Prime Television and PF Secretary General Davies Mwila to the High Court should the TV station fail to apologize to the complainant within 14 days.

This is in a matter where Mwila had written to the Authority complaining about Prime TV’s “biased coverage and unethical reporting of political opinions and beliefs disguised as news during a broadcast of the TV’s main news on Saturday February 9, 2019”.

According to the correspondence between Prime TV and IBA, the TV station had requested that the hearing be moved to next week, which the Authority had quashed.

“We are in receipt of your letter dated 28th February, 2019, where you propose to defer the meeting to next week. We are not deferring the Hearing. Therefore, we expect you to appear today (Friday) at 14:30 hours as per our earlier correspondence. We urge you to begin preparing your responses for the hearing. Take note that if you do not appear this afternoon, the Board will proceed to resolve this issue based on the report furnished to yourselves,” Mapoma cautioned in a letter written to Prime TV.

She stated that the Authority would take the matter to the High Court if Prime TV failed to comply with it’s directive to apologize to Mwila.

“We wish to draw your attention to Section 33 to 37 of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act (2002), which provides processes for addressing complaints. You will note that Section 34 indicates that an aggrieved person can make a complaint if a station breaks any of the minimum Programme Standards as provided in Section 33 and any other standard that the station may have developed. The station then has 14 days to respond to the complainant. In this case, Prime Television responded to the Secretary General of the Patriotic Front within the prescribed time. Section 34 also provides that if the complainant considers the response inadequate, they may make a complaint to the Authority. In this case at hand, the Secretary General did escalate the complaint to us. You will further note that Section 35 provides for the Authority to investigate the compliant if satisfied that the complaint is not frivolous or vexatious. The Authority can also investigate the matter if it is satisfied that the complaint is relevant to a Code of Practice and is brought within three months of the broadcast,” Mapoma stated.

“Take notice, too, of Section 36, which provides that if the Authority is satisfied that the complaint is justified, the Authority should take action to obligate the station to comply with the Code of Practice. The other action may include broadcasting or otherwise publishing an apology or retraction. You may wish to recall that the Authority directed you to write a letter of apology to the complainant. Having been issued this directive within 14 days, take notice that Section 37 requires you to execute the directive within 14 days. Should you fail to do so, the Authority may by notice in writing require you to make good the default within a specified time. Take note that Section 37 (2) provides that if a station fails to comply with the notice, the Authority shall apply to the High Court for an order compelling the station to remedy the default.”

Mapoma stated that IBA would not convene a meeting between Prime TV and Mwila.

“Of importance, take note that the process above does not allow for the Authority to convene meetings between the two parties. This means that as a station, currently, you have to make a choice to either comply with the directive or not. Take notice that the Authority will not convene a meeting between yourselves and the Secretary General of the Patriotic Front. However, should other institutions, such as advocacy bodies be willing to organize such a meeting, we would urge you to pursue this option,” advised Mapoma.