Zambia’s new administration reinstates banned channel
Less than a week after Zambia announced a change in government after the general elections, the country’s Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has agreed to reissue a broadcasting licence to Prime Television Zambia after it was withdrawn in April 2020 after allegedly refusing to air COVID-19 massages free of charge.
At the time, former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya issued a directive that all government entities cease business with the station and that it be closed. It was subsequently removed from digital signal carrier, TopStar.
On 15 August 2021, Prime Television Zambia announced on its Facebook page that it was back and that it will cover the inauguration of President elect Hakainde Hichilema scheduled for 24 August, 2021.
On 16 August, during a media event, Hichilema said his government would not allow a situation where media houses are closed for doing their work.
He said it was up media houses to decide whether to cover him or not: “My administration will ensure that no media shuts down and telling the media what to cover. You will have editorial independence and enjoy self-regulation. I’m seeing the symbol of Prime Television here today. Welcome back,” Hichilema said.
Prior to his election, the United Party for National Development (UPND), which sponsored Hichilema, vowed if in power, it would restore the station’s licence, claiming its closure was politically motivated.
In a letter to Prime Television, IBA director general Josephine Mapoma said the Authority held a special meeting and made a decision to give back the licence to Prime Television.
“I wish to inform you that the board of IBA at its 20th special meeting held on August 7, 2021 did consider your application. Note that the Content Service Provider Licence is granted subject to the following terms and conditions-payment of licence fee for K20, 000 (US$1,044) annually valid for the duration of the licence (7 years). This offer is effective August 18, 2021,” she said.