By: Foday Manneh
The Gambia Press Union and the management of King FM Radio have reacted to the ultimatum sent to the latter by the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
In a letter sent to King FM, PURA said it is concerned to note that specific contents broadcast over the radio station are not in line with their license conditions, reminding them to work per their license conditions.
The regulatory body further noted violations of these conditions by any entity attract punitive action against the offender. Therefore, they asked King FM to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against them in a response that should be sent on or before May 9, 2023.
Reacting to this, the Secretary General of the Gambia Press Union, Modou Joof, said the letter sent to King FM was an attempt to censor the radio station. However, he noted that his union is taking meaningful steps to resolve the matter.
“The GPU wrote to PURA today seeking an audience with the agency, together with the Media Council of the Gambia and King FM, either tomorrow or Monday to discuss our concerns on what appears to be an attempt to censor the radio station,” Joof said.
The management of King FM said the letter was received with disappointment without a spelled purpose, the Assistant Manager of the radio station, Lamin Sanyang, told TAT.
“We received the letter from PURA saying some of our program contents are not in line with the license regulations. We were surprised because they did not specify these programs, and we are now left in the dark,” he said.
“It was just disappointing because PURA is a government institution, and if we violate media rule, I expect them to engage the Media Council, which is the regulatory body,” Sanyang added.
The assistant manager assumed that the PURA’s move was politically motivated, given the recent call by some political party supporters for the radio station to be shut down.
“Before this issue, some NPP supporters were saying on WhatsApp audio that King FM should be closed down because they contributed to the party losing massively in the recent councilor elections, so shortly after, PURA wrote to us. We say they have an agenda,”
“They asked us to reply in nine days and explain why we think they should not act against us. So we replied today (Thursday) and asked them to clarify or specify which program or current affairs violated the rules,” Sanyang confirmed.
As the day coincides with World Press Freedom Day, the GPU also released a statement urging The Gambia Government to make the realization of freedom of expression, a free and independent press a top priority for Gambians to fully enjoy all other rights, including civil, political, economic and social rights, which is still their position according to Joof.