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Media business costs have become astronomical – ZIIMA

THE Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) says editorial independence without financial independence is nothing but a shadow of media freedoms.

President Hakainde Hichilema will today officially open the 13th Session of the National Assembly.

ZIIMA president Jajah Coulibaly said while welcoming President Hichilema’s pronouncements so far on media development, expectations were that the President shall also set a strong and loud tone on the media operating environment.

“Specifically, we expect the President to create an enabling environment for the media industry to grow. We would like to put it to the President that editorial independence without financial independence is nothing but a shadow of media freedoms,” he said.

Coulibaly said the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected the media fraternity such that some media houses could not survive and had to lay off workers while others struggled to pay staff.

“While other sectors were considered for various bail-out packages, the media was completely overlooked. We made several attempts to suggest that media houses be considered with at least a waiver of some of the many fees they have to pay every year to various bodies, especially those in the broadcasting sector. The cost of doing media business has equally become astronomical, and as such, we expect the new administration to look at how duty on some media equipment, production materials, and spares can be reduced,” he said. “We also expect the new government to reduce the cost of internet in Zambia. By this, we mean the cost of internet bundles on which most of the ordinary citizens depend, tax on smartphones and computers be reduced too. These form part of the many accessories that journalists use in their daily operations.”

Coulibaly said ZIIMA would also like to draw the President’s attention to the notorious cyber security law which was being pushed by the PF.

He said the piece of legislation was not only destructive but evil and must be repealed.

“Repealing this law was the UPND and other CSO’s position on this matter and we expect the President to add more power to this cause. The other area we expect the new administration to address is the selective accreditation to state functions by Ministry of Information officials. These functions include but are not limited to presidential press conferences. It has been a tradition that certain media houses and journalists perceived to be critics of the state have been excluded from such functions,” said Coulibaly. “Finally, we congratulate the President on appointing the Minister of information and Media, Honourable Chushi Kasanda. We hope she will keep an open-door policy so that we engage each other on a good note.”

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