Index 2024
95/ 180
Score : 55.38
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
87/ 180
Score : 59.41
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Hakainde Hichilema’s election as president in August 2021 has improved the situation for the media after some difficult years. But the legislative framework still needs improving and Zambia’s economic problems continue to hold back journalistic independence.

Media landscape

The Zambian media landscape is fairly rich and pluralistic. The national broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), has three TV channels and three radio stations. The state manages the Times of Zambia and the Daily Mail daily newspapers. In the private sector, the country has 42 TV channels, including the influential Prime TVDiamond TV and MUVI Television, and around 120 radio stations. The News DiggersMast and Daily Nation are the most influential newspapers. Finally, the government has a public relations service, the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS), which is tasked with giving the government a “good image”.

Political context

The former ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF), maintained a tight grip on both state and privately owned media, resulting in the shutdown of media outlets and the dismissal of outspoken journalists. The situation has improved since the new government took over in August 2021: interference has decreased and the media are operating more freely. In February 2022, a court ruled that the closure, six years earlier, of Zambia’s most important independent newspaper, The Post, was illegal. This was an encouraging sign.

Legal framework

The access to information law, promised for years, was finally signed by the president in December 2023. The Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act that was adopted in March 2021, officially with the aim of protecting Zambian citizens from online abuse, is seen by many journalists and bloggers as a tool to muzzle the online press. Finally, the Defamation Act was often used under the previous government to arrest journalists critical of the president. 

Economic context

Zambia's economic difficulties have had an impact on the media. The lack of financial resources makes journalists vulnerable to bribery, particularly when investigating government officials or business leaders, the latter seeking to buy their silence. The creation and survival of a newspaper is also made difficult by the cost of printing and paper.

Sociocultural context

Zambian society is conservative by nature, with strong Christian values. As such, topics such as abortion and contraception are not covered in media outlets run by religious groups, including the Catholic Church-owned National Mirror newspaper. 


The safety of journalists has improved since the new government took over but, after many difficult years for Zambia’s journalists, it is unclear how long this respite will last. In July 2023, photojournalist Henry Chunza was attacked by a parliamentarian who had just been suspended from the National Assembly.