THE withdrawal of the MMD political advertisement was done in the spirit of promoting issue-based campaigns and not character assassinations, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) has said.
ZNBC corporate affairs manager Masuzyo Ndhlovu said yesterday that the national broadcaster was responsible for sending out correct messages to the public and has denied any political interference in its operations.
Mr Ndhlovu said claims by MMD acting national secretary Mwansa Mbulakulima that a named PF minister had instructed the public broadcaster to stop airing the former ruling party’s advertisements were not true and that there were guidelines that required each political advertisement to meet certain benchmarks.
He said the advertisement submitted by MMD did not meet the stipulated guidelines and admitted that there was an oversight on their part the first day that it was aired.
“As ZNBC, we have the responsibility to ensure that we send the correct messages to the public and political parties have a duty to check if their messages contain what they will do for the Zambian people. Political party campaigns must be issue-based and not individual centered.
“MMD failed to meet this because their advertisement was attacking the PF and it was not issue-based. We have an editorial committee that sits and scrutinizes all the materials brought to us and when that advert was brought, there was an oversight and it was aired but when they critically re-examined it, it was discovered that the advert failed to meet the required standards so it was dropped,” Mr Ndhlovu said.
He said that the public broadcaster was operating without interference from anyone as management was in charge.
And commenting on complaints that ZNBC had been featuring the PF candidate videos more than any other candidate, Mr Ndhlovu said there was need to understand that the broadcaster had an obligation to cover Government and that the PF candidate was also a Government official.
“Most of the people in the PF are in Government so they have an upper hand and as ZNBC we have an obligation to cover Government. Political parties complaining should know that as an institution we have also problems with resources which make it difficult for us to cover all the 11 candidates.
“We only have four cameras and we cannot assign all the cameras to politicians as that will mean that we will not be able to cover other human interest stories. So to make sure that we cover all the candidates we have engaged the media teams for all the political parties to give us stories of these candidates,” he said.
Last week, the MMD had given the broadcaster a 24 hour ultimatum to start airing its paid for political advertisement failure to which it would commence legal proceedings for breach of contract signed between the two parties. Mr Mbulakulima accused the ruling PF of having issued instructions to ZNBC not to air its political advertisement.
He said it was a clear breach of contract by the broadcaster not to run its advertisement and that the action had severe and irreparable consequences especially that they were going to the presidential election in less than a fortnight.