‘PURA lacks capacity to regulate Gambia's broadcast media’

May 11, 2023, 11:40 AM | Article By: Sulayman Waan

Dr. Sulayman Bokar Bah, lecturer at Birmingham City University has said the Public Utility and Regulatory Authority (PURA) of The Gambia lacks the capacity to regulate the broadcast media.

“PURA has the legitimate grounds to regulate the broadcast media, but "lacked the capacity to do so," Dr. Bah, specialist on Media Law and Journalism in Post-Colonial Africa said on his Facebook post on Wednesday morning. 

PURA has accused three radio stations: King FM, Home Digital and Fayda FM of breaching their licence conditions with Pura claiming they broadcast “certain contents which are not in-keeping” with their licence conditions.

In a letter addressed to the aforementioned radio station, Pura said: “Pura is asking the radio to give reasons as to why punitive actions should not be taken against them on or before 9 May 2023 for the following reasons: “Through our monitoring of all content on regulated FM radio stations, it is our concern to note that certain contents broadcast over their radio stations are not in keeping with their licence conditions.”

  The authority further reminded the radios that, it is mandatory for all radio broadcasting licencees to conform to their licence conditions, and (a) present all news and current affairs in a factually, balanced, accurate, impartial and non-partisan manner, adding licence holders shall ensure their content is desirable to the public and that it is not offensive.

However, the media expert further said PURA needs to have someone who understands professional journalism and law to enforce the provisions of the Information and Communications Act, 2013.

"The entire regulatory body must be reformed to be independent and adequately protected against political interference. The mere fact that PURA is a government agency directly accountable to the Minister of Information and Communications raises concern about potential abuse of authority," he stated. 

However, he said all journalists must also bear in mind that a broadcasting licence holder in The Gambia is required by law to present all news and current affairs in factual, accurate, balanced, impartial and non-partisan way.  

"These are the standards even in advanced democracies," he added. 

He said Gambia`s CSO’s must not wait to cry over regulatory measures, but should help to train journalists. “What is happening in the broadcast industry is pathetic and far below conventional standards. 

“Could you imagine the financial damages a lazy show host is causing to even the print industry by sitting in a studio reading a newspaper verbatim? There are different style guides for both the print and broadcast media. Newspaper articles cannot be substitutes for broadcast scripting," he stated.