The Patriotic Front has filed a complaint with the Independent Broadcasting Authority against privately owned Prime Television for alleged biased overage.
Patriotic Front General Secretary Davies Mwila has also reported Prime TV to MISA Zambia for having defied ethical codes in their reportage of the Sesheke by-election.
Mwila said that Prime TV had reported that Patriotic Front cadres in collusion with the police had attempted to assassinate UPND president Hakainde Hichilema which was not true.
“In accordance with The IBA Act (2002), Part V, Section 33, we wish to register our grievance and displeasure with Prime TV partisan reporting as illustrated in your biased coverage and unethical reporting of anti-Patriotic Front (PF) political opinions and beliefs as well as your pro-United Party for National Development (UPND) propaganda, disguised as news,” said Mwila.
He accused Prime TV of manipulating Computer Generated Graphics to promote the opposition UPND agenda.
“As highlighted in the foregoing paragraphs, the CGG was just as misleading and mischievously contrived as the headline and the story,” he said.
“While footage of the story showed Mr Hichilema walking with a group of people in the bush at a leisurely pace in a bush area, there was no visual evidence of any Patriotic Front Cadres firing live ammunition or even chasing Mr Hichilema. The news report smacked of questionable reporting as there was no congruence between the news script alleging PF Cadres firing live ammunition or any “gang” chasing Mr Hichilema.”
Mwila added: “The story was therefore highly inaccurate, and irresponsible as its emotive and inflammatory nature had the potential to perpetuate political hostilities and ignite civil strife.”
He said that Prime TV news blacked out the Patriotic Front during the Sesheke by-election except where they wanted to paint them black.
“We note that your television station dedicated close to 25 minutes of the news bulletin to giving prominence to UPND. This is In conflict with section 5.2.5 of the IBA Standard Operating Procedure,” he said.
“Prime TV in dealing with matters of major political controversy is expected to include significant views of other significant sources related to a story such as the one alleging that we were after Mr Hichilema’s life. Regretfully, your Television Station has as usual, not given due weight to balance the story by seeking a reaction from the Patriotic Front. Consequently subjective views influenced by UPND and its agenda have sensationally been misrepresented as facts on your Television Channel.”
Mwila said, “Regretfully, the said Prime TV News Bulletin gave undue prominence to the views and opinions of the United Party for National development to the exclusion of all others including the other political parties involved in the Sesheke Parliamentary By-Election.”
The PF strongman said that Prime TV risked steeping into the irresponsible journalism that plunged Rwanda into the 1994 genocide.
“As evidenced in different parts of the globe and the African Continent, the consequences of unsubstantiated provocative and incendiary reporting and partisan journalism can set an entire nation ablaze,” he said.
“Perhaps we need to remind you of names such as Georges Henri Yvon Joseph Ruggiu a presenter on the Rwandan radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, which played a significant role in promoting the Rwandan Genocide; or the role of another media house – RTLM Radio Station which also fanned the flames and escalated the Rwandan genocide uprising?”
Mwila has been at cross-roads with Prime Television and recently flushed them out of a news briefing he was addressing.