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Zambian media regulator to sue broadcaster

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Zambia , 03 Feb 2016

Zambian media regulator to sue broadcaster

From Zambia, the local chapter of media regulator, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is pursuing legal action in the Lusaka High Court against the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) for alleged bias coverage ahead of the Southern African country's general elections in August.

Enoch Ngoma, Media Liaison Committee chairperson, said the organisation had no choice but to take action against the ZNBC because of continued biased coverage, dominated by the ruling party.

He added that the committee is hopeful that the court will find in favour of the organisation specifically because the station is not private but public.

Zambia goes to the polls in August this year to elect a new president, lawmakers and civic leaders - but opposition political parties are complaining that they are not given coverage by the national broadcaster because of government interference.

"The action by the committee is based on a precedent which was set by the court in 1991 when the directors of the three institutions (ZNBC, Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail newspapers) were put on suspension for failing to give equal coverage to all political parties in the run up to the general elections," Ngoma said.

Stakeholders have argued that ZNBC and the other public media institutions are run by taxpayers' money and therefore should be accessible by all citizens, regardless of their political affiliation.

The Media Liaison Committee has also warned that the country's Minister of Information and Broadcasting Service Chishimba Kambwili would soon find himself in court over what the organisation claims is his abuse of ZNBC.

However, the government says it has the right to control ZNBC because the station is owned by the state.

Kambwili said ZNBC and other public media institutions are objective in their reporting. "Unlike other media institutions that always report against the government, ZNBC strives to cover all political parties."

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