#Article (Archive)

Reopening Teranga FM, a welcome development

Feb 15, 2011, 11:51 AM

We welcome the move taken by the authorities in allowing Teranga FM to resume operations.

Teranga FM, a community radio station based in Sinchu Alagie village in the Kombo North district of the West Coast Region, was reportedly asked to stop transmission by the authorities with no public explanation.

The move to shut down the radio station came as a surprise to many of its esteemed listeners, who entirely rely on the station for their daily news diet.

Even though no official reason was made known to the public, many believe the order to close down the station was connected with the radio's review of the local newspapers, whose news content it broadcasts daily in the two major Gambian languages, Mandinka and Wollof, for the benefit of members of the audience who do not know a word of English.

Since this unfortunate development, there has been a lot of speculation, especially in the West Coast Region, where the radio, within its short period of operations, has captured the attention of the general public, most of whom relied on Teranga FM to get the day's news.

In our view, the daily review of the news carried in the independent press by Teranga FM was in line with their legitimate duty to inform, entertain and educate their audience.

Therefore, we do hope that they would be allowed to continue reviewing local newspapers for the benefit of their audience.

Reviewing local newspapers for the benefit of listeners is nothing new in many African countries, in fact,  it is common in Senegal and Ghana, among other places.

In Senegal and Ghana, for instance, state television and radio does review local newspapers in local languages so we can do the same in The Gambia.

It is only when people are aware, educated and well-informed that they can make informed decisions.

We strongly believe that journalists, and media workers in general, must be allowed to do their work professionally, as expected of them.

Journalists should be seen as partners in development and not enemies. Afterall, The Gambia belongs to all of us irrespective of whether you are a journalist or not.

The duty of journalists is to gather and disseminate quality and relevant information for public consumption; it is not to aid specifically and purposely facilitate the strategic advantage of any government.

We appreciate the move to re-open Taranga FM having considered the plight of its many listeners most of whom rely on the radio station to know what is happening in the society, which is their right.

We use the opportunity to call on the Gambia government to also consider re-open the popular radio stations, Citizen FM radio and Sud FM radio.

The two were both dynamic stations with captivating news programs, amidst a lot of other imaginative programming. In doing so, it would serve as new turning point in the Gambian media’s history.

They were one of the country's vibrant media outlets that were bringing pertinent news in a simplified form to the Gambian people.

Indeed, it is high time the government allowed them to come on air again.

A free and vibrant national press will be proof of freedom of expression, the upholding of human rights, and the rule of law, all of which together constitute the bedrock of a true democracy. 

"There can be no press freedom when journalists exist in condition of corruption, poverty and fear."

Aidan White