Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Board Wants GRTS Re- positioned, Compete

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By Kebba AF Touray

The Board of Directors of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) has revealed its intention for the public broadcaster to be repositioned and be a public broadcaster that would be viable to compete in the industry.

The board made the disclosure before the Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) of the National Assembly on Monday 25th January, 2021, while the state broadcaster’s activity report and financial statements for the years 2018 and 2019 were being reviewed for consideration.

Mr. Abdou MK Touray, Director General of GRST, said when the public broadcaster started in 1995, it was viable with lot of government support and state of the earth equipment. But at present, there are many changes, he said.

Touray said repositioning the public broadcaster would ensure it focuses only on content production.

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“GRTS, like other television stations, should be on a sound footing to be able to provide news and other programs to the general public,” he said.

The director said the challenges GRTS is grappling with today overwhelm the institution because they don’t have enough support.

“The levy we are receiving is not received on monthly basis and some companies are even defaulting and the collection of those levies is difficult. So we need to reposition GRTS for us to be a public broadcaster that would be viable and given all resources to be able to compete,” he said.

Fatou Jagne Senghore, Chairperson of the Board, informed PEC that the levy has been decided upon few years ago by a government policy, adding that GRTS cannot be seen or compete at the same level with private broadcasting entities because of the public service remit.

“GRTS has to be subsidized. It is not a commercial entity and it is public service broadcaster and cannot generate revenue as any other commercial entity. So obviously, a form of government subsidy must exist for the public service broadcaster to be viable,” she said.  

Senghore said GRST has to redouble its efforts to ensure, through its programing, to modernize its investment so that it can attract more funding through better programing.

“In a nutshell, we believe that government subsidy must exist for any public service by government through different forms of levies. Today, there is liberalization in the broadcasting sector, especially on television side and the policies and legislation have not been enacted for the broadcast sector to capture the new situation and that the airwaves have been liberalized without a policy and law and that brings us a lot of trouble,” she said.

The board chairperson said legislation is needed to clarify the role of the public service to enable them to reposition the corporation and have private sector grow amidst fair competition.

The sitting with GRTS has been adjourned till further notice after a marathon scrutiny and consideration of its aforesaid activity reports and financial statements.

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