HELLEN Mwale has appealed to electronic media houses against heeding to a demand by the Independent Broadcasting Authority to submit their content every two weeks.
Mwale, the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) – Zambia chapter chairperson, told journalists at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday that the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act did not state what the Authority was now demanding.
On Tuesday, the IBA issued a memo to the effect that all electronic media houses needed to submit recordings every two weeks.
Mwale said inasmuch as MISA Zambia appreciated the fact that one of the mandates of the IBA was to monitor broadcast content and regulate the broadcast media in the country, “we feel the decision to have media houses submit content every two weeks is very retrogressive because there is a cost to it.”
“As MISA Zambia, we’ve noted that the request by IBA to all [electronic] media houses that they should submit content. We think that the request or the directive by IBA is not in good faith,” Mwale said.
“First of all, we would like to know if IBA did engage the stakeholders on that. Inasmuch as we know, media houses have been submitting content to IBA on a quarterly basis. [But] for IBA to say that they would want to monitor content which is broadcast in areas where they have no presence is not convincing enough because we know that IBA has been having access to that broadcasting material through the security agencies in this country. So, for them to give that as an excuse is very unfair.”
She argued that the IBA had not told the media how it wanted to actualise its initiative.
“So, our question to IBA is ‘are they going to pay for that?’ IBA is alive to the fact that media houses in this country are struggling. In the IBA Act, all broadcasting media houses are supposed to keep content of their quarterly broadcasts but nowhere in the Act does it state that media houses should submit that content to IBA,” she noted.
“The fact is that in their own Act, there is nowhere it requires the media houses to be submitting content to IBA. What are they up to? Why do they want to strain the media so much that they would want to squeeze off the little resources that they are making? We are begging for answers! Why should media houses submit content to IBA when it is nowhere in the Act? We want to understand from which authority they (the IBA) are drawing that from. We know they are targeting certain radio stations, we know they are targeting certain programmes but this is not the way to go.”
Mwale encouraged and appealed all media houses not to abide by what IBA was requesting them to do.
“We are thinking [that] IBA being a regulator should, by now, be asking government to buy them a monitoring machine which can enable them monitor whatever content is being broadcast throughout the country. Why do they want to suppress the media? We do not want politics in the media,” said Mwale.
“So, we hope IBA is going to help us by telling us what it is they are looking for. Media houses should not bend down by submitting the content as requested by the IBA in two weeks. That is too much – they’ve gone off the hook.”