International cablegram, telex, and telephone services are provided by Sierra Leone External Telecommunications. In 2001, there were about 25,000 mainline phones and 30,000 cellular phones in use throughout the country.
The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service manages radio and television transmissions. Radio Sierra Leone, the oldest broadcasting service in English-speaking West Africa, broadcasts mainly in English, with regular news and discussion programs in several indigenous languages and a weekly program in French. The Sierra Leone Television Service was inaugurated in 1963. As of 1999 there were 1 AM and 9 FM radio stations and 2 television stations. In 2000 there were 259 radios and 13 television sets for every 1,000 people. There was only one Internet service provider in 2000, serving about 20,000 subscribers by 2001.
The only major daily newspaper is the government-owned Daily Mail (with a 2002 circulation of 10,000), but there were several privately owned weekly newspapers, including New Shaft (circulation 10,000) and Weekend Spark (20,000). Under legislation enacted in 1980, all newspapers must register with the Ministry of Information and pay a sizable registration fee.
The 1991 constitution provides for free speech and a free press, though in practice authorities are said to beat, detain, and otherwise harass journalists for publishing articles unflattering to the government.