MASERU — The Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) is conducting a survey on three local private radio stations to ascertain their relevance, the Lesotho Times heard this week.
LCA public relations manager, Tsiu Tsiu, confirmed they were soliciting views from the public on the relevance of Harvest FM, MoAfrika FM and People’s Choice FM.
He said the purpose of the public consultations was to measure the stations’ relevance and credibility in the eyes of the public.
Tsiu said they will use the information garnered through the exercise to renew the radio stations’ licences which expired at the end of last May.
The licenses had been issued in 2002.
He added it was mandatory for the LCA to conduct a public consultation exercise before renewing the licences.
“We have invited the public to give their opinion on the said radio stations,” Tsiu said.
He said they will use information collected during the exercise to rate the contributions of the radio stations to the community.
“The LCA seeks to rate the value the radio stations are providing to the communities and it is their right to participate,” he said.
The exercise will not result in any of the radio stations being shut down, Tsiu said.
“It is under extreme circumstances that a renewal is turned down. Gathering public opinion is just a procedure for renewal,” Tsui said.
He said the renewal process involved everyone in the broadcasting sector whether private, state or community radio stations.
The deadline for submission of opinions is March 29.
“The public is expected to write to us from the day of the issue of the statement until March 29 which will be the closing date for opinions,” Tsiu said.
Officials from MoAfrika FM and Harvest FM radio stations however told the Weekender that they were not aware of the public consultation exercise.
They were confident however that the public would “sing their praises”.
“We have applied for a renewal of our broadcasting licence but we are not aware of the public consultation the LCA is carrying out.
“But in any case we are very confident that Basotho will sing our praises because MoAfrika serves Basotho,” John Ramane, MoAfrika station manager, said.
“When we were celebrating our 10th anniversary, one government minister commended us saying we have taught other radio stations the importance of being informative so we are very confident that our licence will be renewed.”
Ramane however added that they did not understand the whole process but will not jump the gun to discredit it.
“Given our history in broadcasting, one might think this is a political agenda against us but we are not going to give it names. We will have to wait and see if the same process will apply to other private radio stations,” Ramane said.
Harvest FM’s station manager, ’Malichaba Lekhoaba, said whatever the agenda the public opinion exercise sought to serve, Harvest FM is ready.
“One would think this is a political agenda especially because we are not aware of the public opinion exercise. But whatever happens we are ready,” Lekhoaba said.
“Harvest FM serves Basotho and Basotho love us so we are confident that whatever opinions will be given will be good for our image,” she said.
“We thought the decision was based on the board but if it’s also based on public opinion we are very confident our licence will be renewed.”
Kholu Qhobela, People’s Choice FM station manager, told the Weekender she was aware of the consultation process and was confident that their licence will be renewed.
“I saw the statement and looking at the rate at which PC FM is growing there is no doubt that our licence will be renewed,” she said.