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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Momodou Posted - 18 Apr 2024 : 16:04:02
The Standard: APRIL 18, 2024

By Tabora Bojang

At least five media houses and two content creators have been handed about D40 million contract to promote and popularise the Gambia government agenda.

They are The Fatu Network, Star TV, QTV, Paradise TV and Eye Africa while Sparkling Media and Fandema multimedia are the content providers.

The contract will last one year and each media house will receive over D5 million.

Confirming this to The Standard, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Information, explained that the contract will require the beneficiary media houses to promote public access to information on government initiatives, projects and development-focused programs, policies and legal frameworks.

Yankuba Saidy disclosed that the media houses are also required to “live-stream government events, initiate panel discussions on government matters and promote public, private and civil society dialogue.”

He said the initiative was designed to bring government policies, programs and activities closer to the populace because it was realised there was an information gap between the public and the government.

Asked about the procedures taken in selecting these media houses and which institutions identified them, PS Saidy explained that it went through a restricted independent bidding process, and was granted approval by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority.

“This was initiated at a meeting at the Office of the President that established a gap in government’s communication. It was discussed and specific media groups were identified. But at the end of the day, we felt that this is our domain as the Ministry of Information and we are well-placed to implement it. So we had to scrap the initial contract that was drafted and put it through all the GPPA regulations. So we [Ministry of Information] only added the content developers component but did not do the selection of which media houses were supposed to be included or not included in the contract. At our level, when it came here to us to take over, we have to put it through a more structured approach in line with the law,” he told The Standard on the sidelines of his ministry’s press conference yesterday.

According to PS Saidy, the contract is a pilot project and will address access to information and information transparency and will be reviewed after next year to determine the government’s next action.

He said the government intends to introduce in the coming months an information, media and broadcasting bill which seeks to replace the 2009 Information and Communication Act.

This new legislation, he added, will establish a viable legal and administrative context for the formation of an enabling environment for key operators in the information value chain.
4   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Momodou Posted - 19 Apr 2024 : 11:19:06
Gambia Government's Selective Media Subventions Draw Criticism Amid Widespread PR Efforts

Banjul, The Gambia – The Gambian government's approach to supporting certain media houses financially, purportedly to promote its agenda, is under scrutiny, following a disclosure by The Standard Newspaper. This development comes amidst concerns over the effectiveness and transparency of such subventions, particularly when the government has established numerous public relations (PR) offices aimed at similar objectives.

The extensive network of PR operations includes the Ministry of Information, the Office of the Government Spokesman, the State House Public Relations Office, and individual PR units within every ministry and government department. Despite this expansive infrastructure, the government continues to utilize public funds to finance selective media houses for what critics label as "PR stunts."

Critics argue that this strategy is inefficient, especially considering the prevalent challenges in content creation within the country. Government websites are often criticized for being incomplete and functioning poorly, frequently built on low-cost, insecure WordPress platforms with expired SSL certificates. This raises concerns about the overall digital security and effectiveness of governmental online communication.

The opposition suffers similarly from content deficiencies. For example, Namasita Media, despite its openness to supporting diverse political perspectives, has not received any public funding. It faces significant hurdles in sourcing content from both the government and opposition factions, underscoring a broader issue of content scarcity that undermines informed public discourse in The Gambia.

In neighboring Senegal, government support for the media is structured through clear, transparent guidelines designed to ensure operational support does not compromise editorial independence. This approach contrasts sharply with the situation in The Gambia, where the selective nature of financial support to media outlets can lead to perceptions of bias and influence-peddling.

Other Commonwealth nations offer examples of more equitable media support strategies. Countries like Canada and Australia provide subsidies tied to programs that foster diverse reporting and media independence, thus supporting a healthy, pluralistic media environment.

The ethical concerns in Gambia focus on the potential for government subventions to influence media content subtly, thus compromising the media's role as an independent watchdog and a reliable source of information for the public. Experts recommend that The Gambia adopt a more transparent and fair model of media support to preserve journalistic integrity and enhance the media's role in democracy.

As The Gambia grapples with these challenges, the effectiveness of its current media strategy remains a contentious issue. Observers are watching closely to see if recent criticisms will prompt a reevaluation of how the government supports and interacts with the media, with hopes for a policy shift towards greater inclusivity and transparency in media subventions.
toubab1020 Posted - 18 Apr 2024 : 18:06:39

"The contract will last one year and each media house will receive over D5 million"

Momodou Posted - 18 Apr 2024 : 16:07:58
In Whose Interest?

By Madi Jobarteh

My issue is, why should the Government pay any media house to promote its agenda? What agenda?

Government has its obligations set out in law to serve the public hence what other agenda is there for Government such that it will have to pay for it. Media houses should know better that they are not the mouthpiece of the Government to the point of receiving payments to that effect. Under Section 207(3) of the Constitution, the media are obliged to hold the Government on behalf of the people. Hence no media needs payment from the Government to do that job.

If Government were to give a subvention to the media this must be based on law and only intended to empower the media to fulfill its constitutional obligation.

The Government must be held accountable for this ill-advised move which is nothing but bribery and waste of public resources.

Government institutions can pay for their announcements and advertisements in the media but Government should not pay any media house or journalists to carry out PR job for it. The Government already has information officers while there is the state media, GRTS and Gambia Info newspaper which can provide Government information. Public institutions have their websites and social media platforms to share their information. Why therefore pay any independent media to ‘promote’ its agenda? What agenda!? In whose interest?

This arrangement must be scrapped and the concerned public institutions and officials held accountable. The contract must be exposed to the public to know.
Momodou Posted - 18 Apr 2024 : 16:06:14

Ethically, media houses involved should indicate to their audience that this is "paid for content" if they publish/broadcast any news and programmes under this contract.

This is because under such contracts, editorial independence and media plurality can be largely affected. Ethically, media houses should "uphold the principles of editorial independence" in line with the industry-wide code of conduct - the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists.

Also, for the purpose of transparency and accountability, both the government and the media houses involved should share with the public the details of the contract. They are obliged to do so under proactive and reactive disclosure provisions under the Access to Information Act, 2021.

The Charter also states that journalists/media houses should "avoid mixing journalism, advertisement, public relations and propaganda." This is why transparency is needed to state that certain news and programmes are paid content - for the audience to be able to distinguish what content was independently-produced and what was not.
Therefore, media houses should be guided by the following sections of the Charter of Ethics for Journalists:

12. Advertorial and Payment for Article
a. acknowledge any news or information that is paid for
b. ensure that paid-for news and information does not cause harm to any individual or business interest.

Media houses should also avoid publishing/broadcasting paid content that promotes misinformation or disinformation or malinformation.

Disclaimer: We do not have details of the contract yet, so this is just a reminder of the media houses concerned of their obligations. If there are any provisions or conditions under the contract that would undermine independent journalism, or the integrity and sanctity of the profession, we urge them to renegotiate the contract as soon as possible.

The Code of Conduct for Journalists is publicly available for download here through this direct link:
Anyone can access other resources here:

Source: Gambia Press Union

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