Executive Summary
The size of the media industry and specifically the high number of print
publications, belies the size of Lesotho which has a population of only 2 million
people. Even with the declining economy and high printing and production
costs, the country manages to produce 65 newspapers, periodicals and magazines.
There is no local daily paper. A large number of the publications are printed in
neighbouring South Africa because it is easier and cheaper to have media products
published in Bloemfontein and transported back to Maseru.
On the whole, print runs are fairly low, with privately-owned free newspapers
printing the highest number of copies. The state-owned weekly Lesotho Today
has a print run of around 5000 copies, 72 distribution depots around the country,
and sells for M2 which is the equivalent of half a loaf of bread.
The determined efforts by all publishers to increase circulation, is hampered by
the inaccessibility to the rural population, as well as a poor reading culture. Most
publications have chosen to widen their readership base by either publishing fully
in Sesotho or having a few pages carrying news in Sesotho.
As is common in most African countries - radio is the most popular media
platform in Lesotho. The country has two state-run radio stations - Radio Lesotho
and Ultimate FM - both of which have a fairly comprehensive reach thoughout
the country. In addition to this, there are eight privately owned radio stations,
three of which belong to church organisations. South Africa’s Radio Lesedi, which
broadcasts in Sesotho, appears to be more accessible than many local channels.
State television is only accessible via satellite television (which must be paid for)
and contains a variety of locally produced programmes.
While the Constitution of Lesotho does not explicitly mention media freedom,
it does allow citizens the right to express themselves, and to obtain and impart
information. The clawback clause, however, guarantees these rights only as long
as they do not interfere with defence, public safety, public order, public morality
or public health. These Constitutional rights are further negated by other pieces
of legislation, which restrict access to public information and even go as far as to
inhibit government personnel from imparting information.
This has resulted in the infusion of a culture within the civil service that restricts
the release of information on the premise that “it is government information



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