Prior to the overthrow of the Siad Barre regime in January 1991,
all domestic publications and broadcasting were controlled by the
government. The Ministry of Information and National Guidance
published the country's only daily newspaper, Xiddigta
Oktoobar (October Star), which offered editions in Arabic,
English, Italian, and Somali. The ministry also published a
variety of weekly and monthly magazines. The state-run Somali
National News Agency (SONNA) distributed press reports about the
country to foreign news bureaus. The ministry's Broadcasting
Department was responsible for radio and television broadcasts.
The two radio stations, at Mogadishu and Hargeysa, transmitted a
variety of news and entertainment programs. Radio Mogadishu
featured about two hours each day of programs in foreign
languages, including Afar, Amharic, Arabic, English, French,
Italian, Oromo, and Swahili. In 1988, the most recent year for
which statistics were available, there were an estimated 375,000
radio receivers in Somalia. Television service was inaugurated in
1983; two hours of programs were broadcast daily from Mogadishu.
The civil war disrupted service in the 1990s, however.
After Siad Barre's ouster, the provisional government
maintained the publishing and broadcasting functions of the
Ministry of Information and National Guidance. However, it had no
authority over the new Radio Hargeysa, which was controlled by
the SNM, and which, following the May 1991 declaration of
independence, renamed the Voice of the Republic of Somaliland.
The provisional government in the south announced that newspapers
would be permitted to publish free of government censorship, but
by mid-1991, the only new paper that had appeared was the USC's
Al Majlis (The Council). Subsequently, publication of
newspapers became impossible because the country disintegrated
into civil war in late 1991 and early 1992.