THE State says it is lawful for freedom of the press or media organisations to be curtailed to ensure compliance with regulatory and registration requirements of television service providers.
In its application for an order to dismiss matter on point of law Prime TV’s challenging the government decision to cease cooperation with it, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Amos Malupenga said in Zambia the IBA Act regulates broadcasting services.
He said Prime TV could only exercise the right to impart and receive information if it complied with provisions of the IBA Act, which includes licensing with the authority.
He said Prime TV does not have the ability to exercise its right to impart and receive information as it was not licensed.
Malupenga said the violation of the TV station’s rights does not arise thereby making its petition before court incompetent.
“From the reliefs sought by Prime TV, it is evident that the TV station’s petition is anchored on the basis that its right to access and disseminate information as a media organisation in Zambia has been infringed contrary to Article 20 of the constitution,” he said.
Malupenga said the petition by Prime TV ought to be dismissed on point of law as its broadcasting license as a media organisation had expired and was not renewed at the date of commencement of the case.
He said Prime TV was not validly licensed under the Independent broadcasting authority.
“It is trite law that this honorable court has power to dispose of matters on a point of law or fact without full trial to preserve the court’s time and resources,” Malupenga said.
He said the question of law for determination was based on the provisions the Independent Broadcasting Services Act No.17 of 2002 as amended by Act No.26 of 2010 on whether Prime TV is entitled to the reliefs sought in view of the fact that it did not have a valid broadcasting license as of the date of commencement of the proceedings.
He argued that freedom of the press guaranteed under Article 20(2) of the constitution cited was not absolute as it could be derogated against for purposes of registration or regulation, among others, wireless broadcasting or television.
“We submit that the petitioner’s broadcasting license was the only basis upon which its freedom of press as guaranteed under Article 20 of the constitution could be enjoyed. The said license expired on March 29, 2020 two days before this action was commenced on March 31, 2020,” Malupenga said.
“At the point of commencement of this action, the petitioner had no right to commence this action and seek the claims sought herein as the licence it previously held had no legal effect. The petitioner’s petition has no limbs to stand on as the basis upon which its freedom of press could be guaranteed and enjoyed had at the point of commencement of this action no legal effect. We pray that this court grants the application sought and dismiss the matter with costs,” said Malupenga.