By Mots’elisi Sekonyela
February 13th is the annual commemoration of the radio medium of communication worldwide, termed “World Radio Day”. MISA- Lesotho took part in this celebration by hosting a media and stakeholders’ commemoration event in Maseru.
The event was graced by the presence of the Minister of Information, Communications, Science, Technology and innovation Hon. Nthati Moorosi as well as the Acting Secretary General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Lesotho National Commission, ‘Mabafokeng Seala.
The objective of World Radio Day as explained by UNESCO is to raise public awareness of the importance of radio and to encourage decision makers to use it to provide access to information, and to improve international co-operation among broadcasters.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho national director, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane said the global motto for the commemoration this year is “Radio and Peace” which aims to challenge radio stations to spread more factual, credible and peace-making content in their shows as opposed to propaganda.
Ntsukunyane said as MISA- Lesotho they started the day by engaging in a meeting with radio station directors to evaluate the value of radio amongst Basotho since the first radio station was implemented in 1964, being Radio Lesotho to now having a total of 26 radio stations.
In her speech, Hon. Moorosi said she is particularly passionate on issues pertaining to radio as she has done much research and presentation on it sine her school days. She said in one of her researches, she recalls that she made a finding that globally, the number of people that own radio sets is more than that of people who own sleeping mattresses. She therefore emphasized on the vast role that radio plays in society and urged radio presenters to realize the huge impact they have in the public’s decision-making and to stick to ethics and professionalism thereof.
“Radio is such a powerful medium of communication that has stood the test of time, even surviving the social media wave that has seen other mediums of communication suffering at its hands. People still have a strong belief that if something is said on social media but has not been aired on radio, then it is not credible,” Moorosi said.
She however voiced her concerns on the lack of seriousness that some radio hosts show in the manner in which they approach their shows. She particularly talked of the lack of substantial research and fact-checking on topics and issues before going on air as a common habit amongst radio presenters lately. She said this makes radio lose its credibility and reputation that it has built over the years and said she will soon approach LCA to tighten its regulations on this matter.
On behalf of UNESCO, Seala emphasized on the importance of this year’s theme for radio day which is “Radio and Peace”.
“Peace is a very expensive resource that the whole world yearns for. So if this year, the world has entrusted you as radio broadcasters to give it peace, it is a task you should not take lightly. Be very mindful of the kind of messages you spread to your listeners,” said Seala.
She also urged radio broadcasters to encourage the proper speaking of Sesotho in their programs, this after UNESCO marked the years 2022 to 2033 as a decade for indigenous languages.
MISA- Lesotho’s Deputy Chairperson, Kananelo Boloetse stressed on the significant role that radio plays in society, from it being used for radio lessons in schools in the past, to its quick dissemination of information and its entertainment element. He however said radio is still not reformed, as media is still struggling to get included in the government reforms.
“Our fight as the media to be included in the reforms still continues. Just when we think we will see the end of it, something else happens that takes us back to square one. We are at this point exhausted of fighting for inclusion that we did not even ask for, that was demanded by the public because they saw it necessary to have their media reformed,” he said.
Boloetse further emphasized on the importance of compliance by media practitioners. He urged all the media houses to be in alignment with the rules and regulations of the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) so as to give a sense of trust amongst Basotho on the credibility of their information.