INFORMATION and Broadcasting permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo says there is a lot of irresponsible reporting in the private media.
Talking to journalists in Chipata recently, Kasolo said he was worried with the carelessness in the media.
“There is a lot of irresponsible reporting, carelessness, revealing information without adequate research, sometimes mere untruth pumping them out. I think that is a worry to me. Of course, we want the media to be free, they must have freedom of expression and, of course, freedom to disseminate information,” he said.
Kasolo called for good journalism from both private and public media.
“For me that first point means that we need to find a regulatory framework within which journalism play, we need the private media to be able to self-regulate. I have recently stated that I am giving them approximately three months for them to come back to me with a framework of media and what sort of qualifications are required for one to be called a journalist. Journalists are professional and they can only be professional when they belong to a professional body that can help regulate their behaviour,” he said.
Kasolo said there was need to prescribe who a journalist was.
“If that doesn’t happen, as government, we are going to bring a regulatory framework and we will put it as a bill to become law. We have to ensure if that is a case, that we prescribe who is called a journalist, what qualifications they need – the minimum qualifications,” he said.
“I want to curb this behaviour of irresponsible behaviour of reporting untruths, insulting people and thinking that they can get away with
it. In fact, for broadcast sake, those that are broadcasting insults, broadcasting people that are defaming the Head of State, they have to be accountable for their actions. We already have the Independent Broadcasting Authority. They have the Act that empowers them to suspend – even withdraw – licences to some of these media houses, so we will use that. I will make sure that the IBA start operating a bit more efficiently.”
Kasolo said he wants the IBA to be proactive.
“They have to ensure that where anyone transgresses those provisions of the Act, they are brought to book promptly, not actually waiting for
the PS information to tell them or, Minister of Information to complain. They should be the ones that are proactively looking at every script
that comes out and or that and where it is wrong or potentially wrong…” said Kasolo.