By Tlotlisang Phoku

MASERU – Last week saw the launch of the first cohort of the over 50 broadcasters’ training programme at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT).

This three-year programme is funded by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA). The next installment which is next year, will be for the editors.

This is the move to professionalize the media industry and it is in line with the provisions of the Broadcasting Code 2022.

Regulation 5 (2)  reads: “A broadcaster shall recruit and retain (a) presenters who have certification confirming journalistic training of no less than 6 months of continuous training from registered and recognized institutions; and (b) editorial staff who have certification confirming journalistic training of no less than two years….”

This programme was launched by the Minister of Information, Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation, Hon. Nthati Moorosi.

“I am therefore very pleased to officially launch this momentous and indeed history-making occasion where the communications regulator LCA in partnership with Limkokwing University of Creative Technology will join hands to train and equip broadcasters with skills that will result in listeners of different radio stations enjoying professional and ethical reporting in future,” she concluded.

She said as per the media sector reforms document of August 2019, there are many reforms that have been identified as necessary for transformation and to professionalize the media fraternity.  And those were based on the following; width capacity of specialized reporters, for example, on crucial news feats such as investigations, politics, national development, economics, business and financial matters, environmental issues, gender and child issues and many others.

Speaking at the launch, acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LCA,  Nizam Goolam purpose is to assist LCA in achieving its mission which is to provide quality communication.

LCA said journalism is an honorable profession that is ethical hence all media houses are to train their journalists in line with Broadcasting code, 2022.

“The reason for this press conference is to clarify the confusion of media platforms in relation to the Broadcasting code 2022 regulation 5 which is beneficial for the media and the audience. According to the code, any media house that has hired under qualified journalists will be engaged in six months of training while editors in two years of training.

“Those who will be hired should have qualifications from a registered and well recognized institution,” said Goolam.

The presenter of any program should be able to control the show, therefore they must have journalism ethics, that means training for journalists is important.  LCA will monitor the training throughout its course to ensure its success. LCA will also have regular meetings with media houses to monitor if they comply with the set regulation and get to know their challenges.

“All media houses were informed about the Broadcasting code before it was gazette and they were consulted regarding the Broadcasting code. All media houses were presented before the NRA members. Journalism is a profession that needs to be respected like any other profession in the country, it has to be mandated according to its ethics. The authority has statutory power to regulate telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services, which are collectively referred to as the communication sector hence the authority has the power among others to set standards that regulate communication in order to regulate and grow the sector.” 

In the previous years, Lesotho’s media industry had a lot of unprofessional yet talented media personalities within the media houses, some occupied high positions.

Chief Regulatory Officer at LCA, Adv. Thato Ponya, said LCA supports this law because it is for the common good and what Basotho wants. The Broadcasting code 2022 states that a broadcaster shall recruit and retain; presenters who have certification confirming journalistic training for not less than six (6) months of continuous training from a registered and recognized institution, and editorial staff who have certification confirming of not less than two (2) years.

“As part of negotiable national media reforms aligned to the media policy and a code of conduct amongst us, regulations have been put in place ensuring an improved, professional, ethical, capacitated and skilled media fraternity in view of challenges that Lesotho as a country has identified coming standards…

“On behalf of Limkokwing University and the government council, the management and the faculty, we wish to put off our profound regard and gesture to LCA that has particularized through the agreement that will be endured today. The University of Limkokwing has been providing formal and professional training as part of our long industry partnership which we had been enjoying with LCA over the years.

“This initial training is designed for radio broadcasters. It is intended to enhance their skills in content production, formal training in broadcasting journalism and news gathering spheres, reporting variables, involved, ethical responsible professional and legal dispensation of radio broadcast duties.” Adv. Tefo Macheli, CEO of Limkokwing University, said.

On behalf of the trainees, Mots’abi Ts’ehlaha said it is an honor to get such an opportunity although it is not always easy for the experienced to learn.

There is no age restriction on education therefore they will learn regardless of their age. Ts’ehlana said they had always wished to further their studies but due to different reasons they couldn’t, today their dream has come into reality.

This golden opportunity will not only help broadcasters but there will be an improvement in the media industry as well.

Father Charles Matsoso of Radio Maria Lesotho, as a broadcaster’s representative said as managers of radio stations they feel humbled by this training that will be given to broadcasters for a year.

“Of course as managers we are pretty sure that our presenters have got given talent to talk elegantly on air, but also training of this sort is needed for them so that they can be able to enhance that talent with ethics, so that we can listen to their programs with enthusiasm not fearing that they might go wrong.

“We feel as managers of radio stations that raw talent is not enough hence we applaud LCA as well as Limkokwing and as well as the ministry of communications and other stakeholders” Matsoso added.

In November 2021, the National Assembly passed the Media Policy, a document that regulates the media field and its practitioners.

“It provides a framework upon which to refer to when ethical and other dilemmas surface.

Therefore, media proprietors, media producers, editors, managers, and senior officers, as well as practitioners, are bound by the dictates of this policy”.

Also, the media reforms require that entry into the media profession be regulated and practitioners should hold academic qualifications from an accredited institution of higher learning.