State House has dismissed media reports claiming that Zambia’s public broadcaster- Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation ( ZNBC) had been sold.
In an exclusive interview with Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Mr Amos Chanda, he revealed that Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Star Times have created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Topstar Limited, a joint venture company through which Zambia as a country is implementing the digital migration process”.
” We wish to state that there is no sale that has taken place at all!”
“Even if it were to be a sale as some misinformed circles have alleged, a sale of that nature would require not just a Cabinet Resolution but an amendment of four laws: the Constitution itself, the ZNBC Act, the IBA Act, ZICTA Act and the Broadcasting Act!” Mr. Chanda said.
In clarifying the matters further, Mr. Chanda appealed to the general public not to fall prey to machinations and distortions by enemies of progress: “Members of the general public may wish to know that selling a body corporate requires a sale agreement and passing of consideration, in which case Zambia would receive money for passage of the asset to the buyer”.
In this case the Zambian government has guaranteed a loan of $273 million (that is to say Govt pays if Topstar defaults on the Exim bank loan).”
*The seller does not pay he receives consideration from the buyer!*
Futher, Mr. Chanda stated that: “What has happened at ZNBC is akin to the ZNBC-Multichoice arrangement where the two companies have a 51-49 percent shareholding in the Multichoice Zambia joint venture.”
” Members of the Public are therefore called upon to ignore the lie The Mast peddled a lie that ZNBC had been sold! That is not a decision anyone, including Government, can make quietly! Cabinet approved the guaranteeing of the loan which will be repaid by Topstar and not a dollar of State coffers will be spent on this project!”
Mr. Chanda added that: “For changes at ZNBC the venture entails a lot of things such as building new studios, equipment upgrade and build provincial television stations. This process will create 1000 jobs and revolutionarise television as we know it. Content and signal quality will improve as well and digital television costs will come down significantly!”
Answering a question on digital migration, Mr. Chanda stated that: ” Digital Migration is a matter that requires a Sovereign decision of State party to international protocols that which only a Sovereign government can do.”
“Government does not have the money nor the capacity on its own, to carry out digital migration and so it is guaranteeing not just a Chinese loan but partially a ZNBC Loan to a tune of 40 percent because ZNBC is the approved signal carrier.” Mr. Chanda said.
” *And this tells you that no sale has taken place.*The Government guarantee comes in because by extension it owns ZNBC!
Contrary to the lies by The Mast Newspaper, we should be thanking the Chinese company for taking the risk of procuring a loan of that magnitude on behalf of ZNBC! ”
Asked about Multi-Choice’s misgivings, Mr Chanda had the following to say: “Multi- Choice is using a public platform and making huge profits out of it. On the other hand, Star Times is upgrading and building new and the next generation network. Fear of of the unknown cannot hold us back. It is a bit odd that some journalists at ZNBC would not know this!!!”
*Special Interview with Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations- Amos Chanda*