Zambia’s Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has agreed to reissue a broadcasting licence to Prime Television Zambia after it was withdrawn in April 2020 for allegedly refusing to air COVID-19 messages free of charge. The above mentioned comes less than a week after the country announced a change in government following the general elections.
Dora Siliya, the former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, ordered all government entities to discontinue doing business with the station and be shut down. It was subsequently removed from TopStar, a digital signal carrier.
On its Facebook page, Prime Television Zambia announced that it was returning and will be covering President-elect Hakainde Hichilema’s inauguration on August 24, 2021. During a press conference, Hichilema stated that his government would not let media outlets be shut down for carrying out their work. Hichilema added that his “administration would ensure that no media shuts down or is told what to cover,” noting that it was up to media companies to determine whether they would cover his inauguration. “You will have editorial freedom and be able to self-regulate,” he remarked.
Before his election, the United Party for National Development (UPND), which sponsored Hichilema, promised that if he were elected, it would reinstate the station’s license, saying that its termination was politically motivated. Thus, IBA director-general Josephine Mapoma noted in a letter to Prime Television that the Authority conducted a special meeting and decided to return the license to Prime Television.
“I am writing to advise you that the IBA board of directors considered your application in its 20th special meeting on August 7, 2021. The Content Service Provider Licence is issued subject to the following terms and conditions: payment of a US$1,044 annual license price that is valid for the duration of the license (7 years). She stated, “This offer is effective August 18, 2021.”