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Radio stations fight over signals

Lerato Matheka

MASERU — Two private broadcasters have accused government-run radio stations of interfering with their transmission.

Harvest FM and MoAfrika FM recently complained to the Ministry of Communication that two state radio stations,  Ultimate FM and Radio Lesotho, were interfering with their broadcasting frequencies.

They say they have also alerted the radio stations’ management about the problem.

This comes barely a month after the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), which regulates the broadcasting industry, suspended the privately owned Joy FM for three months for a similar problem.

The LCA said Joy FM was interfering with the frequencies of People’s Choice FM and OFM, a South African radio station.

In the latest problem MoAfrika and Harvest FM say their listeners have complained that when they tune in on their normal frequencies they are getting either Ultimate FM or Radio Lesotho signals. 

Harvest FM station manager Malichaba Lekhoaba said their problems started when Radio Lesotho and Ultimate FM transferred and installed new transmitters at Sehlabeng.

The old transmitters, Lekhoaba said, were at Lancers Gap. 

“I visited the principal secretary (Tšeliso ‘Mokela) of the Ministry of Communications and he told me that the two stations (Ultimate FM and Radio Lesotho) had transferred their transmitters and increased their broadcasting signal power from the normal 1 000 watts to 5 000 watts,” Lekhoaba said.

“I then lodged a complaint to (Motlatsi) Monyane, the ministry’s chief engineer, but he told me if all stations needed to be transferred it would be advisable if it was done as a group not an individual.”

She said Monyane told her Harvest FM needed to settle its outstanding rentals on the mast that carries transmitters for all radio stations.

John Ramane, MoAfrika’s station manager, said they were having similar problems with their frequencies.

“We were not aware but our listeners told us this has been happening for the past two months and it only happens with certain programmes,” Ramane said.

“The principal secretary said he guessed the tampering was because of too close frequencies so we should liaise with the LCA which grants frequencies to radio stations,” he said.

MoAfrika broadcasts on 99.3MHz and Harvest is on 98.9MHz, while Radio Lesotho is on 93.3MHz and Ultimate on 99.8MHz.

LCA public relations officer Tšiu Tšiu said he was not aware of the complaint.

“I have not received any complaint,” Tšiu said.

“But if there is such a problem the LCA will follow the procedures and send its technical team to verify the validity of the complaint before acting on it.”

Monyane however said there was no interference but that Ultimate FM and Radio Lesotho had installed powerful transmitters.

“We have upgraded the broadcasting capacities of both the radio stations from 1 000 watts to 5 000 watts,” Monyane said.

“This means more reception power for our frequencies.”

“If the other stations would want to upgrade their broadcasting, they need to be ready to buy powerful transmitter machines and for increased rental fees,” he added.

Monyane said the LCA would have intervened if it had detected any frequency interference.

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