MUVI Television has been shut down with immediate effect following the suspension of its broadcasting licence by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) for alleged unethical and unprofessional broadcasting practices.
The closure follows an uproar over the station’s broadcast of a news item which seemed to suggest that the Electoral Commission of Zambia was doctoring results of the last presidential election.
A news item in their midday news suggested that 8,000 votes given to President Lungu had been docked to rectify published results.
Irate functionaries took offence at the report as it seemed to support and substantiate the UPND claims that votes were doctored.
Early last week the station came under severe criticism when it showed a picture of “alleged” University of Zambia students burning tyres and insulting President Lungu.
Unza students later denied that
any demonstration against President Lungu had been staged at the campus. IBA has also suspended the broadcasting licences of two radio stations, Komboni Radio in Lusaka and Itezhi Tezhi Radio respectively, for what it terms as “unprofessional conduct posing a risk to national peace and stability”.
IBA chairperson Brigadier General Justin Mutale confirmed the development at a media briefing yesterday.
Gen Mutale stated that before, during and after the August 11 general elections, the three broadcasting stations had conducted themselves in unprofessional manner contrary to the provisions of the IBA Act, adding that it was necessary for the authority to suspend their licences in public interest.
“The suspension has been done under Section 29 (1)(i) of the IBA Amendment Act of 2010 which provides that the board may cancel broadcasting licence if the cancelation of the licence is necessary in the interest of public safety, security, peace, welfare or good order,” Gen Mutale said.
Earlier yesterday, the Authority warned that it was going to take punitive measures against broadcasters who were going to conduct themselves in an unethical manner. IBA warned broadcasting stations to desist from unethical and unprofessional practices or risk having their licences suspended or revoked. Gen Mutale observed that before, during and after the August 11 general elections, some radio and television stations had conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner, contrary to the provisions of both the IBA Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct.
Gen Mutale said this was according to the monitoring and sensitization visits conducted by the authority since the commencement of the campaigns.
He noted that some radio stations used staff members to openly campaign for some political parties and candidates.
“All these were said to be paid for political programmes; the action portrayed the stations as having endorsed such political parties. This is not acceptable and is against broadcasting standards in Zambia, where stations are not allowed to openly endorse political parties or candidates.
“The Authority observed that some stations poorly handled programmes which led to people insulting each other and using derogatory remarks against each other and even against the Head of State on air,” Gen Mutale said.
He also noted that there were some serious levels of inaccuracies, skewed coverage as well as publication of unverified news items by some licensees.
He said such news bulletins promoted disunity in the country.
“Such careless reporting demonstrates a lack of impartiality and professionalism in reporting and has the potential to bring about division and discord in the nation. The authority noted that in some instances, stations’ news titles were in discord with the content in the stories,” he said.
The IBA further stated that broadcasters engaged in programme hook-ups without direct permission from the authority, adding that the action made such stations broadcast in areas where they were not licenced, an action which constituted a breach of the IBA Act.