By Abdoulie John
The co-host of Kerr Fatou Show, Fatou Touray, has rubbished claims made by the management Gambia Radio Television Services (GRTS) that the program was yanked off the air due to the coverage of the 2018 local government and municipal council elections campaign. Viewers of the popular national TV show were left baffled on Thursday night after their favourite program was canceled.
“I got a call on Thursday at around 6:30 pm from GRTS, informing me that the program will not be aired,” Fatou Touray said.
Over these past months, Kerr Fatou show has been one of the rare TV programs that was able to grow its audience. As the tiny West African nation is enjoying a new democratic dispensation, the new TV show aimed at discussing hot topics in the news involving the country’s political figures and celebrities.
Fatou Touray said she was told that it has to do with political broadcasting. “In spite of the political campaign coverage, the TV show has been going on for the past two weeks,” she said, wondering why all TV shows have not been put on hold. Fatou described the national broadcaster’s moved unjustifiable. “Perspective was aired on Friday night as well as series of religious programs. Why Kerr Fatou?” Fatou asked.
She suspected foul play for being responsible for taking off Kerr Fatou off ai becausr the GRTS Director General Ebrima Sillah told her it is because she interviewed some mayoral candidates and left others.
“GRTS boss did not watch the tape because I made it clear that it was the first batch of mayoral aspirants. Other candidates were supposed to appear in subsequent episodes,” Fatou defended, saying they had the opportunity to film all candidates in three episodes.
“I have communication with even those who refused to come to the program,” she stated, declining to comment on whether the GRTS might have contravened a binding contract.
Meanwhile, a top GRTS official told this reportet that they are so busy carrying out their public service mission that barely have time to respond to a social media rant.
“We are mandated by the Constitution to bring all the candidates,” said an official who preferred to remain anonymous. “We have no problem with anybody,” she said, adding that all their partners have been informed about the political coverage, which takes centre stage during elections season.
“Even our 10 o’clock news is off the air. The Director General doesn’t have the power to stop people’s program,” she added. “We cannot break the rules.”
Gambia is moving fast to heal the wounds of more than two decades of the Jammeh dictatorship that had been marred by continued clampdown on the media, forcing record number of journalists to flee the country. The Coalition government has since guaranteed democracy where the media is free. The government has also allayed fears of a return to Jammeh era. But the recent setbacks have ignited fears of possible attempts by the new administration to muzzle the press.