Zambian authorities have closed down a private owned television station operating the capital Lusaka.
The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party has accused the station of being bias in its reportage.
The broadcasting license of Prime Television has been suspended and its signals switched off by the Zambian Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) for 30 days.
Prime Television’s closure comes after the general secretary of the ruling party Davies Mwila recently threw out its crew from a press conference he was holding.
Unbalanced coverage, opinionated news
Justifying the suspension of Prime Television’s license, IBA says it found it guilty of “exhibiting unprofessional elements in its broadcasting”.
The station has been “broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news, material likely to incite violence and use of derogatory language,” IBA board secretary Josephine Mapoma asserted.
Prime Television is expected to conduct in-house training on basic journalism ethics and news script writing during the suspension period.
Attacks on Prime Television worrying
The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) firmly condemned the recent attacks by affiliates of Zambia’s ruling, against Prime Television.
In a statement last month cataloguing what it says are state sponsored attacks on Prime Television, AFEX said, it is “concerned about the concerted attacks on Prime TV by cadres and officials of the ruling PF party in Zambia” and further “deplore the complicity of the media regulator, IBA, in these attacks that are obviously calculated to silence the critical media house.”
According to the AFEX, Prime TV, like any other media outlet in Zambia, has a constitutionally guaranteed right to carry out its journalistic work freely and without interference from any quarters.
“The hostility to which Prime TV has been subjected is therefore an affront to article 20 of Zambia’s republican constitution,” it said.