This is the International Section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
updated: 5/1/07

Zambian Broadcasting:

From Colin Miller:


It was not until World War II that Northern Rhodesia acquired a radio service. In 1941 the Government's Information Department installed a 300 watt transmitter in Lusaka, the capital. This station was built for the purpose of disseminating war related information. From the outset, the Lusaka station addressed programs to Africans in their own languages, becoming the pioneer in the field of local vernacular broadcasting. In 1945 Harry Franklin, Lusaka's far sighted information officer, proposed that Radio Lusaka concentrate on developing programming for Africans. Since Northern Rhodesia could not afford such a specialized service on its own, the administrations of Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland were persuaded to share in the operating costs, while the British Government agreed to provide capital funds. Thus, the Central African Broadcasting Station came into being. Among the by-products of this effort were the world's most extensive collection of ethnic African music, and a breakthrough in that most formidable barrier to audience growth, the lack of a receiver which Africans could afford to buy.

Franklin tried for three years in the late 1940s to persuade British manufacturers that a potential mass market existed among Africans for a very simple inexpensive battery operated short wave receiver. One must bear in mind that this was before the days of transistors. He finally persuaded a battery company to invest in the research and development of the idea. One of the early models was mounted experimentally in a 9-inch diameter aluminum housing originally intended as a saucepan. Thus was born in 1949 the famous "Saucepan Special", a 4-tube tropicalized short wave receiver, which succeeded even beyond Franklin's expectations. It cost five pounds Sterling, and the battery, which lasted 300 hours, an additional one pound five shillings. Within the first three months 1,500 of the Saucepan Specials had been sold, and in the next few years, 50,000 sets were imported. Franklin had hopes of capitalizing on a world market for the sets, but within a few years the transistor radio came into mass production and so turned his brainchild into a mere historical curiosity.

In 1953 Federation came, and in 1958 a new broadcasting organization, the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was founded, with headquarters in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). Lusaka continued to use African languages as well as English, but the spirit which had animated the original station had long since been drowned by the rising tide of animosity between the races. Eventually in 1964, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland broke away from the Federation and became Zambia and Malawi. The station in Lusaka was then known as the Zambia Broadcasting Corporation until 1966, when it changed to Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS). This was again changed at the end of 1988 to the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC). The ZNBC is a Government department under the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism.

There are three domestic services. Radio 1 is carried over 8 FM transmitters, broadcasting in the seven major languages of Bemba, Nyanja, Lozi, Tonga, Kaounde, Lunda and Luvale. These are used in rotation to ensure a prime time audience for each group. Radio 2 is also broadcast by 8 FM transmitters in English. Finally Radio 4 (apparently there is no Radio 3) is broadcast in English over 5 FM transmitters. Programs include news, public affairs, light entertainment, sport, religion and education. School broadcasts are carried during school semesters. Agricultural programs for farmers cover all the country areas. Listening is encouraged by free provision of receivers for farm radio forums, of which there are more than 600. An annual licence fee is payable but many receivers are not licensed!


Our sincere thanks to Colin Miller, for sharing this information with us.

  • History
  • Regulation
  • Station Identifications

Zambia Broadcast History:

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Early regulation of broadcasting

Station Identification: