… As it U-turns from earlier statement and now says the station must be licensed

By Scoop Reporter

UNDER panic from its baseless statement last week that it has no jurisdiction over the operations of Spring TV station because it is broadcasting online, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has now U-turned and says the station is operating illegally and is punishable.  

Last week, Spring TV aired a news item suggesting that former Minister of General Education David Mabumba had committed suicide after video clips of him fondling his private parts went viral on social media, when in fact not.

Social media users then went ballistic on IBA, suggesting that the Authority was not taking any action against the station because it was owned by a ruling Patriotic Front (PF) sympathiser.

But IBA Director General Josephine Mapoma jumped to the defence of the Authority saying it has no jurisdiction to take any action against Spring TV for peddling rumours because the station is not licensed by IBA.

Ms. Mapoma claimed Spring TV is not licensed by the Authority and as such is not bound by its regulations adding that the IBA Act does not provide for the regulation of content broadcast over the internet.

Acting on this “guidance” from IBA, the Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) then wrote to the Authority on July 31, 2020 seeking its position as to whether Prime TV, which was closed months back, could be allowed to operate through internet since it had clarified that it had no jurisdiction on such a broadcasting mode.

But in a dramatic turn of events, IBA board chairperson Mabel Mung’omba now says Spring TV, just like any other broadcasting service provider, is bound by Section 19(1) of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act No. 26 of 2010 which prohibits the operation or the provision of a broadcasting service in Zambia without a broadcasting licence.

“Therefore, any person wishing to operate or provide a broadcasting service in Zambia, regardless of whether the broadcasting service is conveyed through radio frequency spectrum or any electronic communications network such as the internet, is required to obtain a broadcasting licence from IBA.

“Operating without a broadcasting licence amounts to an offence punishable under Section 19(2) of the IBA Act,” Ms. Mung’omba said.

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