THE announcement of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Board signifies another positive development in ensuring operations of the media in Zambia are conducted in a professional manner.
The IBA is there to promote a free media, as well as a pluralistic and diverse broadcasting industry, which safeguards the rational and efficient use of frequencies allocated to broadcasters.
It is a corporate body established by the IBA Act number 7 of 2002, mainly to regulate the broadcasting industry in Zambia.
IBA’s other functions are to grant, renew, suspend and cancel licences and frequencies for broadcasting services in an open and transparent manner; to receive, investigate and decide on complaints concerning broadcasting services, including public broadcasting.
It is also responsible for developing regulations regarding advertising, sponsorship, local content, media diversity and ownership.
A nine-member IBA Board was on Wednesday ushered into office by Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Joseph Katema, who urged the team to lay a firm foundation upon which the IBA should grow.
This is against a background of growing concern in the manner some broadcasting houses have been operating, with a certain degree of disregard for professional ethics. This is an area where the IBA could
take keen interest to guarantee adherence to professional conduct in media broadcasting circles.
Unhampered freedom of expression and the consolidation of democracy are the guiding principles by which the Authority should operate.
This, therefore, means independence of the Authority remains the sine qua non condition for achieving its statutory objectives and ensuring that interests of the viewers and listeners are preserved.
The Government is confident that the team has the required qualities, competence, expertise and experience to grow the IBA from its current infancy stage to a formidable organisation that will oversee the growth of a professional and vibrant broadcasting industry in Zambia.
Expectations from the Government and Zambians at large are high based on the need for the media to exercise high ethical and professional standards in its role of informing, educating and entertaining thepublic.
This development is surely a defining moment for the media industry, and Dr Katema’s remarks that the IBA has a solid function to ensure media operations remain professional are the yardsticks by which the
performance of the Authority will be judged in the coming years.
Furthermore, the Government is re-assuring about its stance to maintain a ‘hands-off’ policy on the media, thereby giving media personnel a leeway to operate independently and professionally for the benefit of the people and the nation.
The vibrancy with which the IBA has come ought to be maintained so that people’s high expectations of its anticipated positive results remain the way they are at the moment.
There are several cases around the globe and in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, for instance, where there are mixed opinions surrounding the IBA.
The IBA has a responsibility to take a very “hands-on” approach and place interests of the viewers before anything else.
It is, therefore, the mandate of the new Board to familiarize themselves with the operations of broadcasting houses as provided for in the law and take the IBA to its expected levels of excellence.
People’s concerns over what and how the IBA would conduct its business are now being addressed following the unveiling of the Board, leaving the people in a wait-and-see situation.
Various changes are taking place with regard to the way the media industry operates, among them, the long-awaited Access to Information Bill, but with the latest development, enactment of this into law seems more likely than ever before.