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Media harassment uncalled for – PSAf

SITEMBILE SIWAWA, Lusaka
THERE should be no room for media harassment in a democratic country like Zambia, which has adequate and clearly defined avenues for addressing perceived media bias, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) executive director Lillian Kiefer has said.
Ms Kiefer said in a statement yesterday that political parties and individuals aggrieved by the media should not take the law into their hands but instead follow the laid down complaint  procedures, adding that Zambia has a number of statutory channels for handling disputes between media and their audiences.
She said “these include the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC). Unfortunately, some sections of society do not seem to provide room for these bodies to play their role, instead taking matters into their own hands and in the process causing unnecessary commotion.”
Ms Kiefer charged that broadcast media that have been unfairly treated by the public need to also take the same route and lodge complaints with the IBA or ZAMEC whenever their staff is harassed.
“Media houses have the responsibility of serving the public interest and not to misrepresent any facts to meet certain political interests,” she added.
And Ms Kiefer has since challenged the media to manage this emotional time and avoid unnecessary chaos.
She urged media houses to maintain high levels of professionalism as the political campaign period peaks since there is high level of temptation to take sides with one’s favourite political party.
“As professional media, there is need to clearly distinguish between paid-for political advertorials, comments and news, so that the reader and listener are left with no doubt as to the neutrality of the news items during this political time,” Ms Kiefer said.

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