Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC)

ZNBC is the oldest, widest in coverage and largest radio and television service provider in Zambia. It operates three radio channels and four television channels.

Media assets

Television: ZNBC TV1, ZNBC TV2, ZNBC TV3, ZNBC TV4

Radio: ZNBC Radio1, ZNBC Radio2, ZNBC Radio4

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

ZNBC is a state-owned media organization whose board members are appointed and dismissed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, to which ZNBC is subordinated as a statutory body. ZNBC was established by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Act.

Following the elections in August 2021, the new government changed the name of the ministry to the Ministry of Information and Media.

In February 2022, the ministry appointed the new board of ZNBC in line with the legal provisions in the ZNBC Act.

Source of funding and budget

In general, state subsidies account for most of ZNBC’s funding. The rest is supposed  to come from a combination of revenues from a license fee paid by ordinary Zambians and advertising sales. However, data about the funding of ZNBC is murky as there is little transparency around the corporation’s yearly budget.

As the government has been struggling in recent years with budgetary deficits, it doesn’t manage to cover the expenditures of the station. Moreover, the broadcaster has been slow in generating revenues from commercial sources. A state official said in November 2021 that ZNBC has not generated revenues “for many years.” Moreover, the company is in a serious financial predicament due to massive debts it owes to a number of companies. As a result, the broadcaster in recent years has often been in the position of not being able to cover the salaries of their staff.

Our experts in Zambia say that ZNBC is financed through a complex system of funding that is supported by grants and loans from the Chinese government. The Zambian government, for example, has assisted ZNBC in the past in securing grants from other countries for infrastructural development although these deals were generally perceived by independent observers to be controversial. For example, to pay back a loan taken by the broadcaster from the Chinese owned Exim Bank, the Zambian government has allegedly been using money from the license fee paid by taxpayers.

At the moment, ZNBC is undergoing a deep financial crisis, hardly managing to operate, which it does mainly thanks to payments from the government.

Editorial independence

There are no rules imposed by the government requiring ZNBC to provide content favorable to the government. However, ZNBC is generally perceived as lacking independence and being biased towards the ruling PF party and government. The newly elected government of Zambia launched in autumn 2021 a process of reforming ZNBC. The goal of this reform, according to the minister for information and media, Chushi Kasanda, is to transform the broadcaster into a public service media operator. To achieve that, the Zambian government asked the BBC Media Action, the development arm of the British broadcaster, to assist them in the process. However, it will take time before the results of this process and the impact of the reform on ZNBC’s editorial coverage will be seen. The minister promised that ZNBC’s editorial independence will be guaranteed.

As of 2014, ZNBC has had in place a set of editorial guidelines that were made mandatory for all of the station’s employees. In practice, however, these rules don’t seem to have prevented interference by the government in the station’s editorial affairs. As part of the reform process, the current government promises that such rules will be reinforced.

ZNBC has a PR office that receives complaints from viewers and listeners about the broadcaster’s programs. However, no independent oversight or assessment mechanism aimed to validate ZNBC’ editorial independence has been identified during the latest round of research.

October 2023