Radio station ordered to stop broadcasting BBC programmes

Zambia’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) ordered the community-based commercial radio station Breeze FM to stop relaying British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programmes. Breeze FM is based in Chipata, an area approximately 600 kilometres from the capital, Lusaka, and broadcasts over a radius of 150 kilometres.

This recent order repeats a 2 December 2003 MIBS directive for the suspension of BBC broadcasts on Breeze FM.

In a 6 January interview with MISA-Zambia, Breeze FM managing director Mike Daka said that, on 1 January, MIBS Assistant Secretary for Press Juliana Mwila reiterated the ministry’s directive that the broadcast of BBC programmes was in violation of the radio station’s licence conditions. Mwila pointed out that in keeping with the station’s application, it was only licensed to carry foreign news sourced from the Zambia News Agency (ZANA), the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) and the Pan African News Agency (PANA).

“The idea of you airing BBC programmes, no matter whether it is at night or not, is likely to contradict your original assignment. May I advise that at this time you desist from entering into partnerships like the one you are about to enter into with the BBC until such a time that the IBA [Independent Broadcasting Authority], when operational, works out different guidelines for community and commercial stations vis-à-vis the rebroadcast of foreign programmes,” Mwila wrote in a 2 December letter to Breeze FM.

Daka, however, complained that his station’s audience is disappointed with the move since the programmes offered them a broader view of the world.

“We have a group of enlightened civil society [members], public servants, expatriates and retired civil servants who got used to the service. Network Africa, for instance, [let] listeners know that various problems Zambia is experiencing are not unique to Zambia, but other African countries as well,” Daka told MISA-Zambia.

MISA-Zambia chairperson Kellys Kaunda has urged the government to submit the names of IBA and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) board members to Parliament for ratification in its next sitting. He said this would facilitate the efficient and effective regulation of broadcasting in the country.

Zane Ibrahim, executive director of Cape Town-based Bush Radio, called on the government to reconsider its decision and allow Breeze FM to continue broadcasting the BBC programmes.

This article was originally published on Radio station ordered to stop broadcasting BBC programmes