THE Zambian government must do the correct thing and reconsider the suspension of Prime Television’s broadcasting license, the American Embassy has said.
US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Sean McIntosh said the action by the Independent Broadcasting Authority clearly points to threat on press freedom.
“I can’t make any predictions as far as the timing of the suspension is concerned, we have made our clear point that we would like an urgent reconsidering of the suspension because the action itself shows a very strong signal that threatens the typical press freedoms,” McIntosh said.
“We believe in inherent human fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press. So with this suspension, it’s a very big concern not only of the United States but as you have seen the various calls on the part of NGOs and other international entities. It is our hope that the Independent Broadcasting Authority makes a quick, immediate reconsideration of the action because often we want freedoms of the press and fundamental freedoms to be safeguarded.”
McIntosh explained that during his meeting with information permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo, it was agreed that there was a lot of work to be done in looking at the IBA Act.
“The suspension, the action is not a good signal as far as freedom of expression is concerned but I want to remain optimistic that the government will do the right thing in changing course. We did come to the agreement that there is a lot of work to be done in looking at the IBA Act where there is need for some modification,” McIntosh said.
“Our ultimate desire is to see it [Prime TV] opened but I don’t know what’s going through the minds the IBA, the senior officials at the Ministry Information. It is the hope, as my Ambassador would say, that hope is not a strategy but that’s the optimism that I hope that we will remain encouraged that the Zambian government will re-think, reconsider and do the right thing.”
McIntosh however said if government reviss the ZNBC and IBA Acts, there would be a much more levelled playing field for both the private and State media.
“Any rational person can see that state owned media are under different rules and independent media in often time and many countries of the world, if you are an independent outlet, you are opinionated, being the voice or proponent of the opposition. It’s a hard nut to crack in that regard but there is a lot of work to be done here if things are possible and the information ministry is genuine in their word and looking at the revision of the IBA Act and the ZNBC Act then I am optimistic that there will be a much more playing field for the media here in Zambia,” said McIntosh.