Zambian Media: The Past And The Present

Zambian Media has undergone a lot of changes since colonial times. One of the biggest changes is the shift from private owned, to state owned and finally to a liberalized media.


Zambian print media came on the scene earlier than the electronic media. Journalistic activities started thriving in colonial times and were initially privately owned.

Print Media

Zambian Media Enjoying Independent Zambian Media
Zambian MediaOne of Zambia's Dailies

The first newspaper in Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) was the “Livingstone Pioneer and Advertiser” which was started in 1902 by William Trayner of Livingstone. 

In March 1902, Sir Leopold F. Moore, editorial partner to William Trayner, broke away and started the “Livingstone Mail”, a weekly newspaper.

In Chipata, “The Northern Rhodesia Journal”, a brain child of A. C Haynter and W. J Bell run for six months from 1909.

On the copperbelt, “The Copperbelt Times”, hit the streets in 1932. The paper was started in Chingola. Three years later in 1935, the Northern Rhodesia “Advertiser” was launched in Ndola. 

1936, the Northern Rhodesia government, which until now had left the media to be run by individuals, entered the scene with “Mutende”, an English and vernacular publication.

Electronic Media

The first radio broadcasting started in Lusaka in 1941 by the Northern Rhodesia government. It was followed 20 years later in 1961 by Television.

The “saucepan” (local name for radio set those days), became the evening entertainment, everybody gathered around it to listen to various programmes.

After independence, the new government inherited the same media which became the Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS), the present day Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

Liberalized Media

In both the colonial and the post-colonial times, broadcasting was the prerogative of the government. However, when the media industry was opened up to private ownership in 1991, community radio stations have thrived both in urban and rural areas.

Ownership of these community radio stations is diverse. They are radio stations owned by the church, cooperatives, learning institutions and individuals.

Community radio stations are closer to the communities in which they operate than is the case with the national broadcaster (ZNBC). 

Most of the news covered by the community radio stations is not covered by the national broadcaster and vice versa. 

Although the development of independent Television stations is lagging behind that of community radio stations, there are some positive developments with new independent TV stations already running and a number still on the drawing board. 

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