The Independence Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has with immediate effect suspended broadcasting license for Prime Television and Valley Fm in Nyimba for 30 days and 60 days respectively.

IBA director general Josphine Mapoma announced the suspension at a media briefing in Lusaka, Monday.

She said Prime TV’s licence had been suspended for 30 days for exhibiting unprofessional elements in its broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news, materials likely to incite violence, and use of derogatory language.

“The other station that has been suspended is Prime Television. The suspension is for 30 days. The Board found that the station has exhibited unprofessional elements in its broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news, materials likely to incite violence and use of derogatory language. The station was not only in breach of the IBA Act, but also of their own guidelines that include; (a) Duty to remain balanced, fair and impartial in their coverage; (b) Strive to give equal access by not discriminating against any political party before, during and after elections; (c) Ensure factual and accurate reporting of all news coverage; (d) Endeavour to be responsible and avoid reports that will incite violence; (e) Not hesitate to correct erroneous reports; (f) Promptly provide for the right to reply and; (g) Avoid inclusion of opinions and emotions in their news stories,” she said.

And Mapoma said the Authority suspended the licence for Valley FM in Nyimba district of Eastern Province for 60 days for unprofessional conduct.

“The Board has suspended two stations. Valley fm of Nyimba has been suspended for 60 days due to unprofessional conduct. The unprofessionalism was manifested by their failure to moderate and balance a discussion programme. During the suspension, the station is expected to develop an Editorial policy and recruit trained journalists. The station should also conduct training for the Board, Management and staff on Corporate Governance and ethical broadcasting. In addition, Valley FM should air a public apology to Chief Ndake for the embarrassment suffered due to the station’s broadcast, which featured an impersonator that misguided listeners. The station must also develop complaints procedures for receiving and addressing complaints,” Mapoma said.

Mapoma said during the suspension, the affected TV station was expected to conduct in-house training on basic journalism ethics and news script writing.

“During the suspension period, Prime Television is expected to conduct in-house training on basic journalism ethics and news script writing. You may wish to know that both Valley FM and Prime television were given an opportunity to be heard and their suspensions are pursuant to Section 29 (1) (k) of the IBA Amendment Act (2010) which provides, ‘The Board may suspend a broadcast licence if it consider it appropriate in the circumstances of the case to do so.’ In the case of Prime TV, the suspension is also pursuant to Section 29 (1) (i) of the IBA amendment Act which provides ‘The Board may suspend the licence if the broadcasting licensee has failed in spite of written notice to comply with the conditions of the broadcasting licence’. Prime TV was in April 2018 strongly reprimanded by the Authority over similar type of broadcast,” Mapoma said.

And IBA has revoked the licences for Ngoma radio of Luanshya and Kafue radio for non-payment of the initial licence fees as well as subsequent annual operating fees.

Meanwhile asked if the decision to suspend the two licences was politically motivated, Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said he would have resigned if that was the case.

“May I just also clarify that the complaints can also be against the national carrier ZNBC, the don’t escape that. So don’t think that you can only complain against Prime TV alone, no. ZNBC too you can complain [about it] both radio and television. For instance if I had pressure from the ruling party, I would resign. For us it’s a professional operation. I can assure you the public who or what anyone alleges we do business in accordance with the mandate we are given,” Kasolo said.

And Kasolo said the crimes committed against the IBA Act by the two affected broadcasters were sufficient enough for their licences to be withdrawn.

He explained that the Authority did not rush to permanently withdrawing the licences because it wanted to give them chance to correct their mistakes.

“And I can tell you that for the two whose licenses have been suspended, we could have withdrawn the licences but we just sat and consulted the general public to find out how far we should go. We even included Royal Highnesses in this. So we have been very reasonable in what we have done. The crimes committed against the IBA act was sufficient for us to withdraw the license permanent for those two [but] we haven’t, we gave them chance because we are here to build a diversified media fraternity and we will stick to that. And this exercise that has been there for that past two to three months that I have been the chairman for the IBA, it will teach a lot of our friends in the media fraternity that we are going to be very strict and follow the IBA Act. And for me it is nothing to do with politics. Please forget about the political angle,” said Kasolo.