According to recent reports, the Independent Broadcasting Authority of the Government of Zambia has suspended an independent local news/media outlet known as Prime TV. Citing a failure to comply with the conditions of its broadcasting license, essentially for covering news issues/stories that the Government didn’t like, effective March 4th 2019, the television station has been shutdown and suspended for a time period of 30 days.
In response to the announcement, human rights organizations around the world, including Amnesty International, said:
“The suspension of Prime TV is a ploy to muzzle independent voices in Zambia and to undermine the right to freedom of expression and media freedom. It is clearly intended to send a chilling message that journalists need to self-censor or face dire consequences. This unlawful suspension must be immediately lifted to allow Prime TV to continue telling the Zambian story as it unfolds. Zambia can only benefit from the plurality of media voices.”
In response to the news, published through the office of the United States Embassy in Zambia, the US Department of State issued a joint statement reading:
As was also pointed out by Amnesty International on March 4th 2019, media freedom has been under attack in Zambia for years now. For example, in 2016, authorities once sanctioned the closure of the The Post newspaper, one of the country’s longest serving independent newspapers – essentially because its owner/editor, Fred M’embe, had begun reporting on police brutalities and other crimes against humanity at the hands of the Zambian government.
The United States finds the suspension of Prime TV’s license counterproductive to upholding these principles, and encourages an urgent reconsideration of this action. pic.twitter.com/8fxrSqR2c4
— U.S. Embassy Zambia (@usembassyzambia) March 6, 2019