MISA Zambia says the removal of Prime TV from the TopStar bouquet is not only going to affect citizen’s right to access information but also sends a wrong message to the citizens that the government does not accommodate divergent views.
Chairperson Hellen Mwale said in a statement that MISA Zambia was gravely concerned by Topstar’ s decision to cease carrying Prime TV on its platform.
“We have learnt with much sadness that TopStar’s decision to stop carrying Prime TV’s signal on its platform is said to arise from the discontinued cooperation between the government and Prime TV. In a letter dated 27th March 2020, Topstar Communication Limited Company informed Prime TV that it had stopped carrying the media house’s signal effective immediately,” she stated.
“As MISA, we find this unfair and unacceptable and call upon the government to reverse the decision by Topstar, least they will be viewed as not being tolerant to divergent views and risk seeing Zambia downgraded in terms of press freedom. The removal of Prime TV is not only going to affect citizens’ right to access information but also sends a wrong message to the citizens that the government does not accommodate divergent views.”
Mwale stated that MISA was aware of the attempts by Prime TV proprietor Gerald Shawa to mend his station’s relationship with the government in an amicable way.
“He has written to the government and even apologised publicly for his remarks. We therefore call on the government to mend its relationship with Prime TV as they are an equal partner in development and also in raising awareness, especially in times [such] as this when Zambia and the world are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. We also call upon TopStar to rescind its decision and provide its services to Prime TV,” said Mwale.
During a meeting at Ministry of Information, Shawa on behalf of independent broadcasting stations said they would not be willing to carry COVID-19 adverts for free, which displeased the government.
The government, through Minister of Information, announced termination of cooperation with Prime TV and directed its agencies to terminate their dealing with the private broadcast station.