Harvest FM in trouble

Harvest FM in trouble

Staff Reporter

MASERU

THE Broadcasting Dispute Resolution Panel (BDRP) wants Harvest FM to apologise to Lieutenant Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and the government of Lesotho for “erroneous” comments it broadcast in January.

This is part of the recommendations the BDRP says it will present to the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) for ratification.

The BDRP says Harvest FM radio station should also “pay a fine of M10 000 in two equal instalments of M5 000 over three months or every 45 days”.

The recommendations were made on Monday after the BDRP heard a case in which Fako Likoti, the political and economic adviser to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, had complained about unfair comments against the government and Hashatsi.

The BDPR has also recommended that the station must rebuke in writing its current affairs programme presenter, Puseletso Mphana, “over her handling of a sensitive matter”.

Mphana in January hosted Lehloenya Mahao, a brother of the slain former Lesotho Defence Force boss Maaparankoe Mahao in her Rise and Shine morning current affairs programme where they discussed Hashatsi’s suing of the SADC Commission of Inquiry.

The commission was investigating the death of Mahao at the hands of his former colleagues in the army.

Likoti rushed to the LCA which regulates radio stations arguing Lehloenya Mahao had misled the nation when he said the government had paid Hashatsi’s legal fees to the tune of M100 000, a claim Harvest FM has denied.

Another radio station that attracted Likoti’s wrath was People’s Choice FM but it was not hurled before the BDPR because it complied with LCA Chief Executive Tšeliso ’Mokela’s directive to humble itself in its response to Likoti’s accusation.

After Likoti complained to the LCA about the two radio stations, ’Mokela wrote to them asking them to show cause why he could not take action against them.

They wrote back but “’Mokela felt that the responses submitted by the two radio stations had failed to adequately address the issues which have been raised in the enforcement proceedings letters”.

He invited the radio stations to a meeting where he wanted “to reach a common understanding with the management of the two radio stations on how they are expected to respond to the Authority’s letters”.

He told them that he was disappointed with the responses he received from them.

The minutes of the meeting, seen by thepost, say he “stated that the responses were not couched in an acceptable and polite manner”.

“The responses seemed to be emotionally charged, filled with anger and addressed irrelevant issues,” part of the minutes read.

’Mokela instructed the two radio stations to go back and “address the complaints courteously and they should be relevant to the issue complained of”.

The minutes say he even advised them to engage lawyers to respond to the complaints.

People’s Choice FM complied but Harvest FM allegedly “indicated that its second response which it is directed to re-submit will still be more or less similar to the first one”.

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