GRTS not sold, Info minister clarifies

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Information and Communication Infrastructure Minister Ebrahim Sillah says Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) has not been sold and cannot be sold just like that because it was established by an Act of Parliament. He refuted claims that the State Broadcaster was sold to a Senegalese company.

The minister’s comments came in the wake of rumours that were rife that GRTS is on the verge of being taken over by a Senegalese company, but in an exclusive interview with West Coast Radio on Tuesday, the Information minister rubbished those claims when asked about the matter.

“I’m happy that you raised this question,’’ he said. “Because I’ve seen a WhatsApp image trending around all over that we have sold GRTS. You cannot do that. GRTS was established by an Act of Parliament, if you want to sell it, you have to go through a national process; even my ministry cannot do that.

“We have to liaise with the Ministry of Finance, we have to liaise with the office of the Attorney General Chambers, it’s a cumbersome process, we have to go to parliament and it is very difficult. You cannot sell a state institution just like that.’’

He maintained that the institution is in a state of rebranding to be at par with the rest of the world, it has not been sold and it is an independent institution.

“GRTS is going to be split into two, for example their marketing, their finance, all their engineers these are the ones that are trained, so you take those ones to the State Signal Distributor and they work with these people, but it is completely independent and we have already agreed with all the TV stations that we have issued licences so that they will all go through that, if we don’t do that by 2020, nobody will be able to see your signals.’’

The former director general of GRTS explained the need to make these adjustments, pointing out the financial cost involved in the way the institution is run.

“What is happening now is that we are transitioning from what used to be the norm. Imagine GRTS has about six transmitter sites, maintaining those sites cost nothing less than D300,000 on electricity alone. It is very expensive to run a transmitter site because first, the transmitters have to be on 24-hour electricity, you have to cool them down, you have to ensure also the positioning is always good because the signals have to be there, they have to be properly maintained and GRTS right now cannot do that.”

“We have about six televisions stations that are registered and more are coming to do their transmission, you need a lot of investment.”

‘’That is why you have to make sure that the transmission is separate from content distribution.

“Now all that GRTS will do now is just to produce their own programmes and compete in the market.’’ 

Author: Sankulleh Gibril Janko