The media industry in Swaziland is small. There is one national television station, Swazi TV, a parastatal that is subject to state control. The national radio station, Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS), functions as a government department and all content is censored.
There are two national daily newspapers. The Times of Swaziland is privately owned by the Loffler family. The Swazi Observer is owned by Tibiyo TakaNgwane, a private company that controls businesses and investments on behalf of the King “in trust for the Swazi nation”.
The Times of Swaziland prints the Swazi News on Saturdays and the Times of Swaziland Sunday on Sundays. The Swazi Observer also has two weekend newspapers — the Observer on Saturday and the Sunday Observer.
The Observer is viewed as a state-controlled newspaper. And while The Times is nominally independent, there is a growing perception that the ruling elite are increasingly taking over editorial control.
The Nation magazine is a private monthly publication that has a reputation for reporting controversial stories and is overtly critical of the ruling elite. There are other weekly newspapers with very small print runs that are not widely available and sometimes publish sporadically.
There is one privately owned radio station, Voice of the Church, however it has limited reach and is only licensed to broadcast religious content and health information.
A privately owned TV station, Channel Swazi, was established in 2001. It has not added any value in terms of media diversity or independence, and has only survived by outdoing the state-owned broadcasters in kowtowing to royalty and government. In late 2012 the founder and lead-presenter of the Channel Swazi, Qhawe Mamba, was found to have defrauded 17 million Emalangeni ($US 1.8 million) from unassuming supporters of his station. Mamba’s pyramid scheme was uncovered and he was consequently found guilty of graft by Swaziland’s supreme court. He is currently serving a four year jail sentence.