At least five media houses and two content creators have been handed about D40 million contract to promote and popularise the Gambia government agenda.

They are The Fatu Network, Star TV, QTV, Paradise TV and Eye Africa while Sparkling Media and Fandema multimedia are the content providers.

The contract will last one year and each media house will receive over D5 million.

Confirming this to The Standard, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Information, explained that the contract will require the beneficiary media houses to promote public access to information on government initiatives, projects and development-focused programs, policies and legal frameworks.

Yankuba Saidy disclosed that the media houses are also required to “live-stream government events, initiate panel discussions on government matters and promote public, private and civil society dialogue.”

He said the initiative was designed to bring government policies, programs and activities closer to the populace because it was realised there was an information gap between the public and the government.

Asked about the procedures taken in selecting these media houses and which institutions identified them, PS Saidy explained that it went through a restricted independent bidding process, and was granted approval by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority.

“This was initiated at a meeting at the Office of the President that established a gap in government’s communication. It was discussed and specific media groups were identified.  But at the end of the day, we felt that this is our domain as the Ministry of Information and we are well-placed to implement it. So we had to scrap the initial contract that was drafted and put it through all the GPPA regulations. So we [Ministry of Information] only added the content developers component but did not do the selection of which media houses were supposed to be included or not included in the contract. At our level, when it came here to us to take over, we have to put it through a more structured approach in line with the law,” he told The Standard on the sidelines of his ministry’s press conference yesterday.

According to PS Saidy, the contract is a pilot project and will address access to information and information transparency and will be reviewed after next year to determine the government’s next action.

He said the government intends to introduce in the coming months an information, media and broadcasting bill which seeks to replace the 2009 Information and Communication Act.

This new legislation, he added, will establish a viable legal and administrative context for the formation of an enabling environment for key operators in the information value chain.

Source: The Standard

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