- The Zambian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) has banned Radio Lyambai in Mongu from broadcasting call-in programmes.
The radio's management was notified by the ministry's Director of Press and Planning, Juliana Mwila, through a letter that all such programmes at the radio must stop pending the completion of an investigation.
The government is investigating the station for its alleged unprofessional handling of calls, which resulted in the station "becoming a platform for confrontation, controversies and a channel of insults and misinformation."
Radio Lyambai has been ordered to work within the ethical lines and disseminated information in a balacned manner.
The Manager of the station, Tabb Lubinda, appealed to the government to open dialogue with the station on the issue. "We request to talk to you and exculpate ourselves before you take action," Lubinda told the Southern Africa Media watchdog, MISA.
Henry Kabwe, the Chairman of MISA-Zambia described the government's action as "authoritarian, an assault on media freedom and freedom of expression, and contrary to demorcatic norms." He therefore urged the MIBS to rescind the ban.
"The effect of the ban is to prevent Radio Lyambai listeners from expressing their views on critical social, economic and developmental issues in Western Province. It is, therefore, an unforgivable attack on the Zambian Constitution's guarantee of freedom of expression," he said.
He protested against the illegality of the action and asked the MIBS to establish the proposed Independent Broadcasting Authority without delay (IBA).
"We believe that a properly constituted IBA would be well placed to regulate the broadcasting industry professionally, impartially and free from accusations of political influence. However, as long as the ministry remains the regulator, there will be suspicion of bias and heavy-handedness in the way decisions affecting the broadcasting sector are made," he said.
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