19 over the weekend held its first Media Development Indicator’s Assessment
(MDI), which involved representatives of media houses in the country. The
project is a partnership between UNESCO and ARTICLE 19.
Aisha Davies Ann, director of information service at the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, said the MDI assessment report which is envisaged to deliver an in-depth analysis of the media using UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators will help the government of The Gambia, UNESCO and ARTICLE 19 West Africa to further strengthen media development in the country by supporting policy reforms, training programmes and other required initiatives.
She added that the government of The Gambia is committed to creating an enabling environment for freedom of expression and media development. “In February last year and with support from ARTICLE 19, a Media Law Review Committee was set up, the composition of which reflected a diverse group of senior representatives of the various media related entities, civil society, the National Assembly oversight regulatory agencies, government officials and consultants.”
She emphasised that the Committee was set up in a bid to ensure an exhaustive consultative process and holistic approach in line with the new dispensation of The Government of The Gambia to revise media and communications laws.
“Although government has the responsibility to remove legal and institutional obstacles as well as take other measures to develop a fully informed society to allow for a free and responsible media, this MDI assessment aims to evaluate the development gaps in the media sector with a focus on the system of regulation, pluralism and diversity, media as a platform for democratic discourse, professional capacity and supporting institutions.”
Ms. Bintou Jaiteh, legal and policy assistant, Article 19, said that the media plays crucial role in shaping the democratic society, saying that’s why it is important to create an enabling environment that allows the development of a free and diverse media landscape.
She explained that the MDI project is concerned with evaluating the development gaps within the media sector with a focus on the system of regulation, pluralism and diversity, media as a platform for democratic discourse, professional capacity and supporting institutions.
“The project is a stepping stone to achieving a vibrant media sector that is well informed as it takes into account the special challenges facing the country including decades of struggle against dictatorship, relative poverty and wider challenges associated with its recent emergence from oppressive rule and authoritarian governance.”
She added that for the past years, Article 19 has been working with the Gambian government and different stakeholders to support the reform of media laws and policies to ensure that they are in line with international standards.