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Information minister must refrain from statutory regulation, says IPI

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 9 December 2010 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today released its report on the state of media freedom and media regulation in Zambia.

Recently, authorities in the southern African country have called for the media to be regulated by statute, despite the fact that a voluntary regulatory body was established earlier this year. The Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC), as it is known, has not yet been launched, because the media want to be sure that public media will not be forced to withdraw from the council.

Like their journalist colleagues in Zambia, IPI fears that any statutory mechanism will reverse press freedom gains made over the past 20 years and will result in disproportionate penalties for reporters who commit press offences.

IPI's report finds that the government must allow ZAMEC to proceed without hindrance, and should refrain from statutory regulation. The government should allow government-owned media to participate in this mechanism. Lastly, government should refrain from any legal or extralegal attempt to control media content, and must prosecute those who intimidate, threaten or attack journalists simply because of their media affiliations.

An IPI delegation was in Zambia from 10 to 17 October 2010, and met with journalists and, on two occasions, Information Minister Lt. Gen. Ronnie Shikapwasha.

The delegation included:

• Raheem Adedoyin, secretary, IPI Nigeria National Committee; and board chairman for the Kwara State Television Authority

• Raymond Louw, IPI fellow; publisher/editor of the Southern Africa Report and chairman of the South Africa Press Council

• Alison Bethel McKenzie, IPI acting director

• Nayana Jayarajan, IPI communications officer

• Naomi Hunt, IPI press freedom adviser for Africa

Click here to read the full report

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