Lesotho Broadcasters adopt Guidelines for Election Coverage
Posted on 25th July 2011
Elizabeth Smith, Chair, Commonwealth Media Group and Consultant, Transforming Broadcasting
Lesotho broadcasters, plus the Lesotho Communications Authority and the Independent Election Commission of Lesotho, agreed new Guidelines for the coverage of Election on 22 July 2011, including working to the principles of free and fair coverage. This was at a workshop at the Maseru Sun Hotel sponsored by UNESCO, organised by the Lesotho Communications Authority and supported by the Lesotho Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa. It was facilitated by Elizabeth Smith of Transforming Broadcasting.
The need for fair and unbiased reporting was the theme of the opening address by Mrs Mannete Ramaili, Minister for Tourism, Environment and Culture, standing in for the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, who was away.
Mrs Ramaili thought that, with local elections in October and national ones in 2012, the Workshop was very timely. She also supported Freedom of Information and thought the Government should “open up its offices more.” There was now an opportunity to update the Broadcasting Code according to basic principles, she said.
She was followed by Mr Monehela Posholi, CEO, Lesotho Communications Authority who outlined the regulatory regime in Lesotho.
Then came Mr Lebohang Dada Moqasa, DG Lesotho National Broadcasting Service, who stressed that the position of the state broadcaster was different from that of the private broadcasters: the state broadcaster had the obligation to explain the case for the Government, as well as to cover other parties. In the afternoon, Mrs Elizabeth Smith, a consultant specialising in transforming state broadcasters into Public Service ones, spoke about the report of the Commonwealth Observer group on the Lesotho National Elections in 2007. She described how they had criticised some “harassment of broadcasters by Government operatives” and ” unfairness on the part of the Government TV/radio stations on the coverage of Government party rallies earlier in the campaign, corrected after intervention by the IEC” . There was then a constructive discussion of these and other issues raised by the Commonwealth Observer Group Report.
On the second day Elizabeth Smith explained her hope that participants would amend and agree the CBA Election Guidelines for Small States – a version of which had been amended and adopted by SABA - and take them back to their stations with a proposal that they be discussed further and then be adopted. The next speaker was Mr Mzimkhulu Sithetho, Chairman of the Media Institute of Lesotho. He summarised the MISA Election Guidelines, adopted by SADEC. He was followed by Georges van Montfort of UNDP who spoke about the need for standards in election coverage and the role the media could play in avoiding conflict.
The third day heard Mr Pheko Mathibeli of the National University of Lesotho describe how there were too few qualified journalists in Lesotho. His intake into a journalism course was restricted to 50 in the coming year despite over 400 applicants. He urged the Government to increase the allocation and give the quality of journalism some priority. There was then a session in which the representatives of the private radios explained the difficulty of their situation.
On the fourth day the Facilitator produced draft Guidelines. They were based on the Lesotho Broadcasting Code of Practice Part 111 (Government Gazette Extraordinary Vol XL1X No 38 14.4.2004) which is within the LCA Rules of 2004, the “Guidelines and Principles for Broadcast Coverage of Elections in the SADC Region”, and the “CBA Guidelines for Covering Elections in Small States”. This was amended on screen and agreed in principle. Copies of the amended version were then given to all, for overnight consideration.
On the last day the report was finalised, and agreed.
Report in full
The Media and the Need for Commonwealth reform - 26th March 2011
Ivory Coast to move towards Public Service Broadcasting - 24th April 2011
Climate Change and the Media: Tell it as a story - 18th May 2011
Media Regulation: Broadcasters and Social Media - 1st June 2011
NBC plans to move towards PSB - 15th June 2011
Lesotho Broadcasters adopt Guidelines for Election Coverage - 25th July 2011
The Bhutan Broadcasting Service - on the road to PSB - 27th October 2011
Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation - 8th December 2011
WSIS helps the internet's contribution to media freedom - 15th May 2012
The role of PSB in supporting Social Media - 8th December 2012
A Call for Action on PSB in Africa - 24th January 2014
Public Service Broadcasting and Development - 3rd March 2014
Moving towards Public Service Broadcasting - Progress in South Sudan - 6th October 2014
South Sudan starts setting up its Public Broadcasting Corporation - 22nd November 2014
Hopes dim for Public Service Broadcasting in South Sudan - 10th March 2015
Prospects Brighter for the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation - 12th March 2016
Progress in South Sudan Broadcasting - 10th July 2016
© Transforming Broadcasting