State control of public media fallacious belief, says Malama


MINISTRY of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Godfrey Malama says it is a fallacious belief that public media are under the control of the State.
Mr Malama has since assured the nation that there is no editorial interference in the running of public media by Government.
“It is a false belief that Government interferes in the running of State-owned media. Public media in our country is run by professionals who understand issues of balance and objectivity,” Mr Malama said.
He said this yesterday when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Broadcasting to state government position on the Access to Information Bill.
Mr Malama said the fallacious perception that Government interferes with public media comes from the idea that every newspaper shows deference to shareholders.
Mr Malama said there is no proof to show that public media black out the opposition.
Mr Malama was responding to concerns by committee chairperson Kabinga Pande, who said: “The public media does not cover the opposition. And if it does then the report is a negative one.”
Mr Pande, who is Kasempa member of Parliament and once served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services in the MMD administration,  said the public media blacked out the teargassing of MMD president Nevers Mumba by police in Eastern Province.
“Speaking as a journalist myself, I feel bad that you technocrats are powerless. Why don’t you talk to media heads of these institutions – Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation and guide them to do the correct thing?” Mr Pande said
At this point, director for press and media development Isaac Chipampe, who accompanied the permanent secretary, intervened and said: “Our permanent secretary has made it clear that he does not want to interfere with the editorial operations of the public media. If we do so as a ministry, then we create a problem.”
Mr Chipampe explained that what the public media actually reports on Government development projects and not the Patriotic Front (PF).
The ministry also submitted a report on the Access to Information Bill.
Several steps have been undertaken as the way forward in regard to the enactment of the Access to Information Law.
These steps include the approval of the National Media and Information policy, which provides a policy framework for access to information, and the finalisation of the draft Bill by the legislative committee of Cabinet.

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