INFORMATION Minister Dora Siliya has thrown our Prime TV’s appeal against the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA)‘s decision to cancel it’s license, saying the license had already expired.
In a letter dated April 23, Siliya said she couldn’t entertain the appeal because there was no existing license at the time IBA made the decision.
“It is clear that at the time the IBA Board cancelled the Prime Television’s Broadcasting licence on 9th April, 2020, there was no existing broadcasting licence to be cancelled as the same had expired following Prime Television’s failure to apply for renewal at least 6 months before its expiration, which licence expired on 29th March, 2020,” Siliya wrote.
“Please note that subsection (2) of section 28 is categorical when it provides that a broadcasting license that is now renewed in accordance with subsection (1) of section 28 is void. It is in this regard that I advise that I cannot entertain your appeal in respect to the void license. The appeal has been refused on that basis.”
Siliya also reminded the station of the penalties attached to broadcasting with an expired license.
“Lastly, I wish to draw your attention to subsection 3 of section 28 of the IBA Act which criminalises the provision of a broadcasting service during any period when the license is void, and that upon conviction, the offender may be liable to a fine not exceeding 700,000 penalty units or to 7 years imprisonment or both,” wrote Siliya.
But in an internal memorandum, station manager Kozi Makokwa asked employees to stay calm, saying Prime TV had actually applied for renewal and made payments to IBA.
“As many of you may have heard, our appeal to the minister was turned down on the basis of what they argue to be an expired license. We wish to put it before you that Prime TV made a renewal application last year and payments were made for last year and this year and was only awaiting for a license from IBA. Note that there is annual subscription fee as well as renewal of license at the close of every seven years,” wrote Makokwa.
“We therefore urge our employees to remain calm as we reconcile documentation with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and IBA respectively. We shall continue to update you on the matter as we resolve it.”