Zambia Communiqu: Government promises establishment of Independent Broadcasting Authority

The long awaited establishment of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, (IBA), will be operational by the end of the second quarter of 2011, government has said.

Radio Phoenix reported that Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Lieutenant General, Ronnie Shikapwasha, said in an interview that the IBA board would soon be announced in readiness for the establishment of the broadcasting regulatory authority.

IBA has been under discussion for a long time but government has been dragging its feet on the implementation of the Act.

The functions of the authority shall be to regulate the broadcasting industry in Zambia. Among other issues, the IBA will be responsible for issuing broadcasting licenses, to grant, renew, suspend and cancel licenses and frequencies for broadcasting in an open and transparent manner.

The IBA Act of 2002 was enacted to regulate the broadcasting industry through the creation of IBA in line with the recommendations made by the media law reforms committee and is part of the efforts to democratize the media industry. As the situation stands now, regulation of the broadcast industry is still in the hands of the Ministry of Information and Broadcast Services.

However, the 2010 IBA amendment Act removed the appointments committee that was supposed to receive and consider applications from qualified persons wishing to sit on the IBA board. Parliamentary ratification was also removed from the Act. This will definitely compromise the independence of the regulatory authority, as the minister is now the only appointing authority to the board, a situation that MISA-Zambia and other media organizations are not comfortable with.

Cap 417 sections 8. (1) of the IBA Act of 2002 allow the minister (Information and Broadcasting Services), to constitute an adhoc appointments committee consisting of various stakeholders including the Law Association of Zambia, NGO, religious organization, media support organization and the Ministry to invite applications from persons to be considered for appointment to the board.

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