Gov’t Media Contract of D40 Million Faces Scrutiny from Opposition and Others over Credibility Concerns

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President Barrow

The decision to award a 40 million dalasis contract to seven media houses to promote the government’s agenda has sparked a firestorm of criticism, with many accusing the government of attempting to buy favorable coverage and undermine the independence of the media.

The opposition,  including Hagi Suwaneh, the National Youth President of the UDP, Ebrima Nyang, Admin Secretary 1 for GDC, and former information minister Demba Ali Jawo, have vehemently criticized the move.

The contract was awarded to five TV stations, including The Fatu Network, Star TV, QTV, Paradise TV, and Eye Africa, as well as two content creators, Sparkling Media and Fandema Multimedia. Each received 5.2 million dalasis, except for one media house, which received double that amount.

The decision has sparked a heated debate on social media, with some people condemning it while others back the media for taking on the contract.

Hagi Suwaneh expressed disappointment in the government for using such a large amount of money to promote its agenda, especially when pressing issues like the lack of medications in hospitals, inadequate learning materials in schools, unpaid farmers, and skyrocketing prices of essential commodities are the order of the day. 

He believes that if the government has achieved development, there would be no need to contract media houses to showcase their work, as it would already be visible to everyone.

He also voiced concerns about the media’s credibility being undermined and their editorial policies being influenced.

Former Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo, a former president of the Gambia Press Union, criticized the contract and called on the media houses involved to return the money.

He believes this is a form of bribery to silence the media from holding the government accountable.

Ebrima Nyang, the GDC Admin Secretary 1, expressed concern that allowing the media to be used as a propaganda tool for the government’s agenda will compromise their integrity.

He emphasized that the media should be a watchdog for the state and report independently on government dealings, but accepting such contracts will jeopardize their ability to fulfill this role.

The recent controversy over the media contract highlights concerns about its ability to maintain its independence and credibility in the face of government pressure to promote its agenda and suppress critical reporting.

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