Sunday, March 7, 2021

Setting The Law Aside Is Not The Way To Combat Public Disorder

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Radio and television stations are established under the Information and Communication Act 2009. They are issued licences to operate. There are legal ways of suspending or revoking licences.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is empowered to regulate the provisions of broadcasting in The Gambia. Under section 228 of the Act, the Authority is required to
a) set acceptable standards for programme and advertising and monitor compliance with those standards;

b) establish a Code of Conduct for broadcasting services;
c) monitor compliance with the Code of Conduct and with the terms and conditions of licences; and so on and so forth.

It is the regulatory authority that should receive complaints of violations and advise the minister of such violations. The minister is empowered to revoke or suspend licence under section 235 and section 236 respectively. This has to be done in writing.

It is therefore strange that security forces will proceed to arrest the manager of a station and close down a station with a licence.

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The minister should therefore intervene to ensure that the law is respected and that impunity is not allowed to raise its ugly head in New Gambia. There must be reasons for suspending or revoking licences and those who have the locus standi to monitor and give reasons for the suspension and revocation of licences are the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

A radio station with a valid licence which has not been suspended or revoked should not be interfered with by any authority.

Law enforcement should only come in after and not before licences are suspended or revoked.

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