Since the mid 1990’s, MISA has been campaigning for greater broadcasting diversity in southern Africa to combat the domination of state broadcasters and the exclusion of other voices. We advocate for a three-tier system for broadcasting: public service, commercial and community, as outlined in the African Charter on Broadcasting.
Almost every country in the region, save for Zimbabwe, has private broadcasters. Some countries like Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have initiated community radio initiatives while they wait for policy and legal reforms allowing community radio licenses.
Community media is operated in the community,for the community,about the community andby the community.It is independent, free from political or commercial interference and can therefore facilitate public platforms for debate and discussion and promote social agendas.
The reach of community media, particularly radio, means it provides information and a platform of expression to remote, grassroots communities that may not be represented in other media. The main challenges community radio and television faces in the region are lack of legislation, regulation and infrastructure to support the establishment and licensing of community media, and the inability to sustain themselves beyond donor seed money.
Public Service Broadcasting
Public service broadcasting is created, financed and controlled by the public, for the public. It is neither commercial nor state-owned, and is therefore free from political or commercial interference.
Public service broadcasting informs, educates and entertains. It is an essential part of a pluralistic, diverse broadcasting sector.
MISA Lesotho joined the community of Butha-Butha district in northern Lesotho early in the month of May 2015 to celebrate the launch of their community radio station, Moeling FM. The launch, very fittingly, took place on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.
The launch was particularly meaningful for Butha-Butha community member Taoana Lerole, who was the brainchild behind the establishment of the community radio station. Lerole, a radio set repairer, put together pieces of old radio sets to build his radio (broadcast) station. With an antenna mounted on a tree at his family home, Lerole launched his pirate station in 2012, only to have the signal jammed by the communications regulator.
With the assistance of United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Commission and MISA Lesotho, the broader community became involved in the radio project.
During the celebration the office of Butha-Buthe District Administrator’s office presented Lerole with a certificate and trophy in recognition of his innovation and the positive change it is going to bring to the community of Butha-Buthe.
In addition to supporting the establishment of the new radio studio, MISA Lesotho held governance training to the station board members on how to run a community radio station. MISA Lesotho also provided training to the newly appointed radio presenters. The purpose of the training was to equip the volunteers with skills to professionally produce programmes of good quality.
Moeling FM is the country’s fourth community radio station after Motjoli FM (Thaba-Tseka Community Radio), Mafeteng Community Radio and DoPE FM of the National University of Lesotho.