Presentation on theme: "THE UNVERSITY OF ZAMBIA SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION Country Report on the Media Environment in Zambia to."— Presentation transcript:
THE UNVERSITY OF ZAMBIA SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION Country Report on the Media Environment in Zambia to the Partnership Intensive Course at the Common Wealth Youth Centre in Lusaka on 20 th May, 2013.
By Lt Col E Kunda (RTD) This Report looks at the media environment in Zambia with particular emphasis on the most popular media houses. Zambia is a country in the Southern Region of Africa. The country shares borders with eight other countries, namely Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Congo Democratic Republic. The country has a land area of 291,00miles or 753,000square kilometres (Kasoma,1986 ). The country has a population of 13million with a density of 17.3 persons per square Kilometre. Lusaka the Capital is the most densely populated with about 100persons per square Kilometre (CSO, Zambia, 2010).
THE MEDIA ENVIRONMENT: Zambia has a liberalised media policy. Anybody with the capacity to set up a media house is free to do so. The policy was introduced in 1991, after the change of the government system. Previously Zambia was a one-party democracy, this changed in 1991, when people, through the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), decided to go back to the multiparty type of democracy. However, despite the liberalisation of the media industry, the print media has recorded little growth in terms of new publications on the market.
The country has continued to be dominated by three daily newspapers namely; the Times of Zambia, the Zambia Daily Mail and The Post. The first two are public newspapers, though they operate as government newspapers while the third is a private newspaper (Nkandu, 2012). Initially, soon after the policy came into effect, a number of newspapers, mainly tabloids, sprung up, but could not withstand the pressures of the market, they collapsed. Over 25 newspapers and three magazines were registered by the National Archives of Zambia (Chirwa, 1997).
BROADCAST The broadcast industry on the other hand has recorded considerable growth. Currently, the country has about 50 operating radio stations. The majority of these are community stations, set up by various communities in their respective local environments. Only about three percent of the 50 radio stations are Commercial.
As for television the country has six channels currently on air, while eight (8) have just received construction permits. Eight new radio stations have equally received construction permits. This brings the number of radio stations to 58 and that of television to 14(ibid).
GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: Except for the national broadcaster, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), the rest of the radio stations have limited geographical areas to cover (InterMedia Survey Institute, 2010). The maximum radius they can cover is 80Kilometres (50miles). In terms of popularity, the most popular news media in Zambia are the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) television and radio; mainly due to the large geographical areas they cover.
The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation attracts a lot of attention from people particularly during news time. Nearly four million people watch ZNBC TV programming, particularly news, every day (znbc.co.zm retrieved 12 th May, 2013). The one hour-long evening news programme which comes at 1900hrs is the most popular. However, the programme suffered a set-back from early 2010 to September to 2011 when the Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD) then in power turned the station into a full-time propaganda mouth piece when the party was campaigning for the 2011 elections.
This infuriated and distanced most viewers from the station. Viewership dropped drastically with most people preferring to watch news on the privately owned television stations. The public media were extremely biased in that they gave the MMD more coverage. They even blocked some stakeholder views which they felt were anti- government or anti-MMD. For example, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) had a running programme on ZNBC which was blocked even when it was fully paid for...they went into defaming all those perceived to be anti-government, observed Goodwell Lungu, TIZ Executive Director in an interview with Misa Zambia after the elections(PAZA/MISA Zambia,2012).
The station’s following has since returned to its earlier position because it is now seemingly balancing its news coverage; covering both the ruling party and the opposition (ibid:2). ZNBC radio channels are equally popular too. The three channels are Radios One, Two and Four. According to a survey carried out by InterMedia Survey Institute in 2010, Seventy eight percent of weekly radio listeners in Zambia said they often listen to one of three state-run channels (InterMedia Survey Institute,2010)
The listenership increases even more at 1315hrs every day, when the three channels present the Network News Bulletin. Radio One is most popular in rural areas while Radio Two is popular in urban areas particularly among the elite and the middle class and Radio Four is popular among the elite and the youth (ibid). Radio One broadcasts in seven local languages namely; Bemba, Lozi, Kaonde, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja and Tonga. The Channel is seen as a medium through which Zambia’s cultural diversity is celebrated in local language broadcasts. The channels broadcast a variety of programmes covering almost all aspects of human beings although research has shown that programmes of entertainment nature and the informative kind tend to be the most favoured (znbc.co.zm retrieved 12 th May, 2013).
SHARE OF MEDIA CONSUMPTION: As seen already most people pay more attention to the national electronic media and only a few thousands of the country’s 13million people read newspapers daily. For instance, only about people read the Times of Zambia Daily(Lusaka Times), while slightly above10000 people read theZambiaDailyMail (http://en.wikipedia.org/Zambia_Daily_Mail) Even the Post newspaper which boasts of a higher circulation does not go beyond 50000copies of print run per day (Zambia Advisor.com, 2013)
According to research findings by this author, the main reason why people do not read newspapers daily is the lack of access to newspapers for most people. For urban centres such lack of access is influenced by economic factors, and for rural populations it is influenced by poor distribution to the rural areas coupled with economic factors, which make newspaper companies fail to prioritise distribution to such areas (Kunda, 1998). In consequence, the majority of Zambians get their information from either radio or television as indicated by about 67 percent of respondents in recent research by this author (Kunda, 2010).
SHARE OF THE ADVERTISING MARKET Apart from three or so multinational companies which advertise in almost all news media houses, Zambia has a very limited base of companies which advertise in the media. The media houses share the little there is on the market. The overall reach of ZNBC ensures it has a larger share of advertising revenues, while commercial stations generally struggle. Community radio stations and religious stations, on the other hand, are dependent on bilateral aid or support from religious institutions or NGOs to sustain themselves (InterMedia Survey Institute, 2010). It is mainly because of lack advertising incomes that a number of media houses have collapsed. At the advent of plural politics in Zambia in the early 1990s several media houses, especially newspapers sprung up, but as indicated earlier, they did not go far, they went under.
INTERNET PENETRATION The advent of technology, has brought with it new media in Zambia. The internet which is now being used in most institutions has facilitated the emergence of new media in the country. Among the new media are face book and twitter which have become very popular among Zambians particularly the youth. News today is first heard through the social media before the main stream media publish or broadcast it. For instance, when one of the hostel rooms got burnt at the University of Zambia recently, most university students heard about it through the social media before it was picked up by the mainstream media.
The coming of cell phones with the internet facility has made communication through the social media faster and easier. People are now able to report from where ever they are in any part of the country. They are able to send news reports to both colleagues and media houses. The 2011 parliamentary and presidential elections in Zambia is a good example of a situation where people in Lusaka were able to get the results in distant remote rural areas before the Electoral Commission could announce them officially. It is believed that it was because of this aspect, that the government then, failed to manipulate the results in its favour to win the elections. Reporting has now been made easier and instantaneous.
CHALLENGES 1.The major challenges facing the media in the country are mainly financial and logistical. The market is not big and vibrant enough to support the industry. The people who pay for adverts on television and radio are the same people who place adverts in the print media. Resources do not seem to be enough to go round all the media houses. The situation is worsened by the poor economic state of the country which has led to many companies reducing on their advertising budgets. Thus reducing on the income that media houses, including ZNBC, get through advertising (znbc.co.zm retrieved 12 th May, 2013). Although state owned, ZNBC survives on advertising and television levy; 70% of the station’s income is from advertising (ibid).
2. Transport is another major factor hindering media houses from performing as they should. Most of them have only one or two limping vehicles which must be shared by field journalists and administrators. In most cases, journalists have to hike to and from assignments (Kunda,1998). Politicians who have the resources take advantage of this and provide the logistics and get covered in places and issues they would like to be covered on. Because they move together to same assignments, newsmen and women end up writing same stories and at times have same headlines (Kunda, 1998). Logistically demanding stories such environmental concerns are not covered as they should in the Zambian media.
3. Another roadblock to good media coverage in Zambia is the culture of physical and verbal harassment of journalists, slowly creeping into the Zambian society. There is a growing trend among both politicians and ordinary citizens to harass journalists especially at public gatherings such as political rallies. This was particularly more pronounced during the previous government’s administration; people had taken sides against the media (MISA, Zambia, July, 2012). Government or state run media journalists were perceived as propagandists who only gathered information to use against opposition parties. The private media journalists were perceived by government supporters as people who were bent on destroying the good name of government. Each group of journalists was in danger of being attacked, depending on their assignment.
4.The bread and butter issue is another challenge Journalists in the country face. They have poor working conditions, particularly those in the private sector. Apart from poor salaries, most of them do not have decent accommodation. The consequence is that the journalists are demotivated and compromised; they have resorted to cheque book journalism. They demand to be paid to cover certain events otherwise they ignore the event, especially corporate events. Radio and television broadcasters demand some payments to put certain programmes or individuals on air. Music artistes are especially vulnerable. To have their music played on air for promotional purposes, they pay certain producers and presenters for the music to see the light of day on the air (...)
5. Another impediment to good media operations in Zambia are some oppressive media laws found mainly in the Penal code and state secrets Acts. These pieces of legislation tend to prevent journalists from practicing their trade freely. The legislations have made litigation against the media become an order of the day (MISA Zambia, July, 2012, pp20- 27).
CONCLUSION However, despite the challenges the Media in Zambia have continued to perform and provide news, information and entertainment to the public with some degree of satisfaction. This is particularly true of the most popular media in the country i.e. television and radio, in this case the national broadcaster whose Tv channel has nearly one third of the national population watching every day while the three state radio channels also command over 78 percent of listenership per week.