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State warns non-compliant radio stations

Feb. 17, 2020 4 min read

MASERU - Non compliant local radio stations could face closure for non-payment of their operating licences, the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Communications, Mabotle Damane, has warned.

Officiating at the MISA Lesotho, Radio Day celebrations, on behalf of Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Mrs. Damane said only a few radio stations are complying by paying their monthly operating licences.

She stated that letters of warning have already been written to those non-compliant radio stations, adding that a follow up will be made to remind them of their obligations.

The Principal Secretary stated that non-payment of the operating radio licences reflect poorly on the Ministry's revenue collection hence the intension to shut down such non-compliant radio stations.

Mrs. Damane said a radio station is a medium that has kept its prominence even in the age of never ending discoveries,- ‘An accessible platform that we can all rely on for democratic discourse’.

“This year's celebration comes at a crucial time in our history. A time when for the first time we are undergoing media reforms,” she highlighted.

She noted that in hindsight this also gives them the opportunity as media workers and owners to dig deep in their hearts and work towards fulfilling their obligation as a critical ingredient of democracy by ensuring that the public receives adequate and balanced information.

The Principal Secretary stated that closely tied to this responsibility was for the media practitioners to provide Basotho whatever their wealth or geographical location, equal access to a wide range of high quality entertainment, information and education.

“I am concerned about lack of professionalism in handling issues of national interest. I am even more concerned about how some reports, I listen to on our Radios, are just opinions dressed as facts which are clearly targeted at discrediting all efforts of the Government,” she stressed.

She said this year's theme, Radio and Diversity, is a topic very close to her heart, adding that it connotes all the important moment to celebrate humanity in all its diversity such as to advocate for pluralism, to encourage newsroom representation and ensure that it consists of diverse social groups and it promotes diversity of editorial content.

Mrs. Damane underscored that in an effort to promote pluralism and diversity, the 4x4 government is already doing its part with the FM expansion project which gives nationwide reach to all radio stations which have an interest to have such coverage.

In conclusion, the Principal Secretary informed the media that her Ministry is in the process of establishing a cyber security bill which will ensure that it becomes a punishable offence to broadcast information on the internet which may cause harm.

She pointed out that malicious innuendos should not be condoned in the pretext of pluralism.

Speaking at the same occasion, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho Chapter Chairperson, Boitumelo Koloi said radio was an important medium for the transmission of information.

He said radio as a medium of communication has a bright future ahead as it has stood all the tests of time such as modern technology, as it is easily accessible even to the remotest areas in the country.


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Mr. Koloi however appealed to the radio stations programme managers to aspire for pluralism in their programmes considering various age groups, level of education, location and interests as well as gender issues and other societal inclination.

Lesotho Communication Authority (LCA) Communications Manager Tšiu Tšiu said there are 27 radio station licences issued in the country but that only 21 of them are successfully operating.

He said the radio stations range from state owned radio Lesotho which he said was yet to be turned into a public broadcaster as well as community radio stations and commercial radio stations.

Speaking on behalf of the Radio Stations present, Rethabile Pholo of People's Choice (PCF) FM said there are still many challenges facing radio station business in the country.

He made an example that before one could start such a business, he or she has to conduct a pre-test of the listenership and if the target audience do have access to radio or television sets.

Mr. Pholo said the next set will be to meet the requirements of the LCA before acquiring an operating licence, adding that the financial status will also be a determining factor, making an example that PC FM forks out M18,000 monthly to pay the operating licence, which excludes other expenses such as rent and paying of staff.

The celebration of the Radio Day with the theme Radio and Diversity started on Thursday at the Mafeteng Community Radio station where MISA and its partner UNESCO trained its staff.

LeNA

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