MASERU – The Lesotho Communication Authority (LCA) has suspended with immediate effect 357fm from air for contempt and failure to honour and abide by its licence obligations. This has been confirmed to Public Eye by the LCA Public Affairs Manager, Mothepane Kotele. “I can confirm that the licence of 357fm has been suspended with immediate effect as of today until the January 10, 2022,” she said. She explained the decision was reached after the Broadcasting Dispute Resolution Panel (BDRP) of the authority had found that the radio station had failed to abide by its order and to furnish the LCA with the compliance report as had been asked to do so.
The decision by the LCA stems from the complaint that was filed by leader of the Basotho Action Party (BAP), Professor Nqosa Mahao, on September 9, who felt the radio station was on a drive to assassinate his character by airing views and statements that attacked his persona. It was after the BDRP’s hearing that a decision was reached and the station was ordered to air an apology for three weeks running in two of its programmes – Masupatsela and Theha-Tsebe – in the morning and evening respectively and to retract its statements.
The order was expected to be served from October 21 to the November 16. It was at its meeting on Wednesday this week that the BDRP found out that no apology had been made by the radio station during the specified time. The body also noted that an apology was only made after the station was issued the sanctioning letter. The initial suspension had been until 31 December, this year but has been extended to January 10 next year for failure to submit the required compliance report.
An official of the station has confirmed the station received the letter of suspension and indeed the radio is off-air, but said the matter was now being handled by their lawyer. MISA-Lesotho National Director, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, responding on the news of the suspension of 357fm from air, said it was paining and he was shocked. “It’s unfortunate. We know the circumstances surrounding the matter, but suspending the radio is unfair to its listeners and supporters. But we also have to respect the LCA where it is carrying out its mandate. They are the regulator…” he said appealing for a lighter penalty for the radio station.