Zambia suspends pro-opposition TV news channel

Hakainde Hichilema (left), head of the United Party for National Development (UPND) opposition, and President Edgar Lungu (AFP Photo)
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Lusaka (AFP) – Zambia’s broadcasting regulator on Monday ordered a one-month suspension of a TV channel that has been critical of the government, just days after the governing party accused the station of bias and unprofessionalism.

Established seven years ago by a former cameraman at the state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Prime TV has openly condemned the government of President Edgar Lungu.

The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) “resolved to suspend (the) license with immediate effect for 30 days,” IBA board secretary Josephine Mapoma told a news conference in Lusaka.

“During the suspension period the station is expected to conduct in-house training in basic journalism, ethics and news script writing,” said Mapoma.

Last week, the secretary general of the ruling Patriotic Front, Davis Mwila complained to the authority of “biased coverage and unethical reporting of political opinions and beliefs disguised as news”.

But Prime TV director Gerald Shawa told AFP that the authority had issued the suspension without giving the station the right of reply.

Lungu’s government is facing mounting complaints from the opposition of authoritarian behaviour.

On February 20, 10 opposition figures said they would report Lungu to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for allegedly fomenting political violence against his rivals.

Prime TV, which employs more than 60 journalists and support staff, is one of the two largest privately-owned stations, along with MUVI-TV.

The authorities also on Monday imposed a two-month suspension on the Eastern Province-based Valley FM Radio for alleged unprofessional conduct.

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