Gambia’s information and communications minister, Demba Jawo, said that his ministry will be issuing licenses for television broadcasting before the end of the year.
A considerable number of people have applied for licenses for television and radio but their applications are being reviewed by Public Utility and Regulatory Authorities.
“The media environment will be very competitive in Gambia because we already have over 20 radio stations in the country. And very soon we will be issuing television licenses…,” Jawo said during his Wednesday tour of media houses in the Greater Banjul Area.
“PURA is reviewing all TV licenses and I am sure that before the end of this year, we will be issuing licenses.”
Minister Jawo and his deputy permanent secretary, Malick Jones, have toured media houses to acquaint themselves with issues affecting journalists’ work.
Jawo was himself a veteran Gambian journalist, who has been exiled by former president Yahya Jammeh. He has committed himself to freeing the media and also to push for reform of restrictive media laws, including instituting access to information law.
Jawo also visited the Gambia Press Union where he has held talks with the Union’s officials over issues affecting journalists in the country.
Gambia’s new government is facing the Union in the constitutional court, where journalists want the controversial Nana Law repealed.
Gambia’s former government refused to give broadcast license for television stations. The government had strong control of the media, using the only television station for propaganda and forcing private radio stations into self-censorship, only playing music and sports program.
Jammeh’s government stifled media freedom through a combination of criminal prosecutions and physical intimidation. It has ignored regional court decisions ordering it to end impunity for past crimes against journalists.