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MLC looks forward to a friendly media environment

THE Media Liaison Committee (MLC) says it looks forward with hope that the media environment will be friendly under the new government.

Congratulating President-elect Hakainde Hichilema, chairperson Enock Ngoma said the new leader’s victory message on Monday gave hope to the media fraternity.

He said under the PF administration, the media suffered a lot of political persecution, including closures.

“It was during the outgoing Patriotic Front rule that Zambia witnessed the forced closure of two major private media houses, namely The Post Newspaper and Prime Television, using State institutions to do so,” he said in a statement. “All efforts by the MLC and many other stakeholders to plead with the outgoing government to rescind the decision to close the two media houses fell on deaf ears. In congratulating Mr Hichilema, the MLC welcomes the assurance by the President-elect that his government wants to see a free press and that the public media especially the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) should transform itself into a true public broadcaster by giving a voice to all Zambians in a fair and balanced manner.”

Ngoma highlighted challenges the media have faced all along.

He challenged the new government to help revive the economic situation for the media in the country.

“The media in Zambia has been facing numerous challenges compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic that has left majority of media houses in serious financial problems. It is the hope of the MLC that the incoming government will endeavour to assist such institutions,” Ngoma added. “The MLC calls on the UPND government, working with stakeholders to quickly reform the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and harmonise its Act with the ZNBC Act so that among other issues, appointment of boards to the two institutions is transparent.”

Ngoma further appealed to Hichilema to remove surveillance on the media and individual citizens which was prevalent under the PF regime.

“The MLC was on August 16, 2021 elated to once again see Prime TV back online and the station will soon be granted back their operating licence and a frequency allocated. It is also our hope as MLC that during the reign of the UPND government the media shall not experience issues of blocking and filtering of online content where citizens have to resort to using VPNs (virtual private networks),” said Ngoma. “Blocking and filtering of content is a widespread method of censoring especially when it is done with judicial oversight and in a non-transparent manner. Immediately the new Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services is appointed, the MLC will engage him or her over media reforms and obviously, over the media self-regulation framework so that without any further delays, the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) can become law and operational. The MLC would like to take this opportunity to commend the media for their coverage of the election period and re-emphasise the need for journalists to always remain professional and ethical.”

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