Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 20 (of 30)
Political Environment: 24 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 20 (of 30)
Total Score: 64 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Freedom of speech is constitutionally guaranteed, but the government continues to restrict this right in practice. The Public Order Act, among other statutes, has at times been used to harass journalists. The IBA and ZNBC Acts, which together set up independent boards for the regulatory body and the national broadcaster, have not yet been fully implemented despite being passed in December 2003. Until early 2007, there was a major controversy over the appointment of the ZNBC Board of Directors under the new legal framework. While media institutions interpreted the new law to mean that the Minister of Information had no say over the names presented to him, the government took the opposite view. In March 2007, the Supreme Court overturned an earlier judgment by the High Court that had confirmed the media institutions' interpretation. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, it was obvious that the government got the final say in appointments to the Board of Directors. Even so, in spite of promises from the government that the IBA board would be appointed in August 2007, no appointments have yet been made. The draft Freedom of Information bill is also yet to be passed.
Government officials continued to harass journalists in 2007. On May 17, 2007, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Mike Mlongoti threatened to revoke an operating license for Petauke Explorers, a local commercial radio station in Petauke district, for featuring the president of one of the leading political parties in an on-air paid-for interview. Separately in July 19, 2007, police in Lusaka prevented Q-FM, a private radio station, from mounting their broadcasting equipment that would enable them to cover live a demonstration outside the gates of Parliament organized by the OASIS forum and Collaborative Group on the Constitution. Police said that the permit issued to the conveners of the demonstration did not include live coverage of the event. In November, Radio Lyambai was banned from broadcasting live call-in shows, because the station was "becoming a platform for confrontation, controversies and a channel of insults and misinformation."
The government controls two widely circulated newspapers, the Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily, and the state-owned, pro-government Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation dominates the broadcast media. As a result of prepublication review at government-controlled newspapers, journalists commonly practice self-censorship. In September, Zambia's Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Mike Mulongoti, warned journalists at the state-owned Daily Mail and Times of Zambia not to criticize the government. Opposition political parties and nongovernmental organizations complained of inadequate access to mass media resources. However, a group of independent newspapers widely criticize the government, and an independent radio station, Radio Phoenix, presents nongovernmental views. The privately owned TV stations that are available are not locally owned and relay content from foreign TV stations. Internet access is not restricted by the government, though its use is hindered by lack of widespread access – only 4.4 percent of the population was able to access the internet in 2007.
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