Paza protests closing of radio stations

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 24 August 2016   |   By Andrew Sakala
Paza protests closing of radio stations

Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) statement on the suspension of broadcasting licences for Muvi TV, Komboni Radio and Itezhi Tezhi Radio. The suspension of the broadcasting licences of the three broadcasting stations is premature and illegal because the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) board breached the Act by not giving the three stations an opportunity to defend themselves. Under the IBA Act of 2010, it is mandatory for the board to give a broadcasting station an opportunity to defend itself before a licence can be suspended or cancelled. The licences for the three stations were purportedly suspended under Section 29 (1) (j) which gives the IBA authority to suspend a licence in the interest of public safety, security peace, welfare or good order. But under the same Section 29 (7), the Act is explicit and demands that before a licence is suspended or cancelled, a licensee must be given an opportunity to be heard.

To be specific Section 29(7) reads: "the board shall, before cancelling or suspending a broadcasting licence under this section, give the broadcasting licensee an opportunity to be heard". Our inquiries have revealed that none of the three stations were given an opportunity to be heard by the IBA board which renders the board's action null and void. PAZA therefore demands that the IBA board should rescind its decision and follow the law before any action can be taken. It must be noted that Section 29(7) was included in the Act to ensure that freedom of the media and freedom of expression are not easily violated by way of arbitrary suspension or cancellation broadcasting licences. The IBA board must, therefore, give the three broadcasting stations an opportunity to state their case before any action can be taken against them.
We urge the IBA board to follow the law to the letter and exercise its powers as a regulatory board in a cautious and judicious manner.
Andrew Sakala
23 August 2016