KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
MINISTER of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili says Government is making efforts to fund public media institutions and has a burden to come up with a policy to support community media stations.
Winding up debate in Parliament last night after the committee on Information and Broadcasting Services presented a report on information and broadcasting services, Mr Kambwili said community media should be driven by the community.
â€œI can only advise the community media stations to be aggressive in securing adverts, but we do understand that in some situations, it is difficult to get adverts,â€ he said.
Mr Kambwili said Government is doing everything possible to ensure that media houses, including community radio stations, are supported.
â€œLet me make it very clear that it will not be possible for Government to fund community radio stations. Already we are struggling to fund our own ZNBC, Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and ZANIS, and it will be hard on public coffers to come up with support for community radio stations,â€ he said.
And the parliamentary committee on Information and Broadcasting Services says it is saddened that the board of directors and ultimately the state-owned print media companies do not enjoy operational independence.
Committee chairperson Kabinga Pande said the public print media and their boards do not exercise their acumen required to run as viable entities.
Mr Pande said the committee has recommended that Government should ensure that the public media draw their mandate from an independent board of directors.
He also said it is unfortunate that Government, as the sole shareholder of the public media, has not recapitalised the Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia for a very long time.
And Government has been urged to formulate and implement a national community media policy that will recognise the unique role the sector is playing.
Mr Pande said it is in this vein that the committee urges Government to expand the mandate of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) by creating a community media fund to support community stations and that Government should allocate annual grants.
KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka