Government will no longer give priority to one public media, namely ZNBC

THE Government will no longer give priority to one public media, namely the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) when distributing resources.

Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba disclosed in Lusaka yesterday that during the recent United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly and other events, ZNBC benefitted from a total of K44 million of public funds, while the Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail did not receive any funds.
He said the cummulative total given to ZNBC by the Government in the recent past was K44million of public funds.
Mr Mwamba said a total of K11million was used to refurbish the Outside Broadcasting (O.B) van ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly.
Mr Mwamba said this when he visited the Times of Zambia offices in Lusaka yesterday where he addressed members of staff.
He said the problems that ZNBC faced were identical to those of other public media institutions like Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail and yet it was receiving more attention.
Mr Mwamba said before and during the UNWTO General Assembly, the two print media institutions worked as hard as the national broadcaster but wondered why they were left out when “sharing spoils.”
“So you are assured that you will be treated equally,” he said.
The permanent secretary reiterated Government’s commitment to ensuring that ministries paid their debt to public media institutions arising from advertisements.
Government was concerned with the public media institutions’ high indebtedness to agencies like the National Pensions Scheme Authority, Zambia Revenue Authority, lending institutions, suppliers and retirees.
“I am proposing your case where you have this huge loan obligation to Finance Bank that maybe we can use our office to ensure that together we speak to DBZ (Development Bank of Zambia), who can adopt the loan and give you a long-term obligation because at least loans from DBZ, can be repaid up to 10 years,” he said.
On the Times of Zambia’s proposal to enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with a developer, Mr Mwamba said, “as Government I think we have no problem with that and our office will ensure that your application is approved and you identify a suitable, serious developer.”
He said Government was supportive of such innovations as they would help public media institutions to be financially stable.
He said Government would in next year’s Budget set aside funds for public media institutions like the Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail.
Earlier, Times managing director Godfrey Malama said the company was facing various challenges such as continued struggle to liquidate the  loan it obtained from Finance Bank in 2010 to buy Printing Press.
Of that, he said, the company was yet to settle the principal amount and an  outstanding overdraft.