Southern Africa

COVID-19; Zambia Withdraws Popular TV Station License

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The Zambian government has withdrawn a licence for one of the country’s most popular TV stations; Prime Television.

Although the reason for the action wasn’t given, it was said to have happened after the said channel refused to air free coronavirus-awareness adverts.

Josephine Mapoma announced the decision. She is the director-general of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the government body responsible for issuing licences to television and radio stations.

“The move is necessary in the interest of public safety, security, peace, welfare or good order,” she stated.

The government had earlier called for a meeting with owners of TV and radio stations last month, where they appealed for the free airing of the awareness campaign.

Prime Television is owned by Gerald Shawa, who is also the chairperson of the Zambia Independent Broadcasters Association (Ziba).

However, Mr Shawa stated the reason the media owners were not willing to air the ads was that the state already owed them a lot of advertising money.

The government then singled him out and instructed all its agencies to stop advertising on the station, barred the organisation from covering their events and banned its officials from appearing on the station. Although Mr Shawa apologised for his remarks, the state revoked the station’s licence.

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