The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) was over the weekend compelled to come out with a clarification after it found itself attacked by both the national broadcaster GRTS and private television QTV. Both accused the GFF of misleading statements against their institutions by suggesting that they either do not have capacity to broadcast the national football league or do not give it adequate coverage. The row emanated from a press conference Football House hosted to announce that under the Fifa+ programme a broadcast deal to show the national male and female leagues has been reached with Eleven Sports Media company with contents to be produced by a local media, Eye Africa TV. But two local TV stations are not impressed with comments supposedly made about them at the press conference.
“It is deeply regrettable that GFF president Mr. Bajo, without giving any specific evidence, ridiculed GRTS’ content packaging to justify the GFF’s decision to bypass the national broadcaster for coverage of an important national activity, ” a statement from the national broadcaster stated yesterday.
As for the QTV, a statement from management seems offended with a supposed statement by the GFF president: ”The GFF president also made the claim that he regularly watches the QTV 8pm and 10pm newscasts but has not seen coverage of the GFF leagues featured. We find that to be an extremely strange assertion as QTV has been constantly covering GFF matches and activities both in our news broadcasts, our flagship sports show, QSports hosted by Momodou Gajaga as well as live coverage via QRadio”.
As the storm was gathering pace on social media, the GFF came up with the following clarification: ”The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) has taken note of statements issued by The Gambia Radio & Television Services (GRTS) and QTV regarding a press briefing addressed by its President. Lamin Kaba Bajo during the formal launching of the broadcast deal to show our domestic first division men and women league matches and would like to state the following:
i. Mr. Bajo never said that GRTS do not cover our league matches; in fact, he said their cameras are everywhere but hardly are the reports featured on primetime news.
ii. That the GFF initiated and attended meetings at GRTS with successive Directors General of GRTS, including Lamin Manga, Hon. Ebrima Sillah, Abdou Touray and the current DG, Malick Jeng. That of Mr. Jeng was initiated by Mr. Jeng himself after paying a visit to the GFF President.
iii. The GFF offered and encouraged GRTS as the national broadcaster to take up the responsibility of partnering with CAF appointed broadcasting companies to show our home national team matches, which will give them some revenue. However, GRTS lamented lack of capacity to execute the task and that task has always been sub-contacted to foreign companies resulting to loss of revenue to both the GFF and the GRTS due to high production cost charged by the foreign producers.
iv. We again encourage them to show GFF league matches but GRTS again complained about lack of capacity. They asked the GFF to purchase an OB Van for them, which we could not promise.
v. GFF wishes to further clarify that it did not sign any contract with Eye Africa TV, rather it was the FIFA contracted broadcasting company, Eleven Sports which did so, and the GFF played no part in this. In this regard, Eye Africa TV’s role, as per their arrangements with Eleven Sports, is only to cover the matches and send the products to Eleven Sports for broadcasting.
Regarding a similar statement from the QTV, the GFF wishes to state that:
i. GFF held a meeting in the office of the CEO of the QGroup sometimes ago during which the GFF offered QTV the opportunity to broadcast live, our home international matches to enable the local audience the opportunity to watch the Scorpions in their homes. This was precipitated by the fact that GRTS as the national broadcaster which is the first choice stated that they did not have the capacity to undertake the task. At the meeting, the QTV management has assured us that not only did they have the capacity but were willing and ready to step in for the GRTS.
ii. Sequel to this meeting, the GFF handed over a copy of the CAF/GFF Hosting Agreement to them for them to study and revert to us. Unfortunately, up to date, the GFF has not yet receive a reaction from them.
iii. In addition to the fore-going, a team from the QTV visited Football House several months ago, to open up new discussions regarding the coverage of our domestic league. Unfortunately, again, the QTV team did not get back to us till date after what both sides considered to be a successful meeting.
Finally, the GFF wishes to clarify that President Bajo in his statement meant that even though GRTS cover our local league matches, but they hardly show them on primetime news as opposed to international sports news items. This was meant to encourage the GRTS and all other broadcasting companies to do so.
The fore-going notwithstanding, the GFF is still desirous to continue engaging our local broadcasters to participate in the production and broadcasting of domestic league matches to satisfy the local audience and, in the process, popularise our football in the country. Thus, we are open for further/new discussions in the interest of the game”.
EYE AFRICA TV
Meanwhile, Eye Africa TV, the local media said to do the local production of filming the national league for broadcast by Eleven Sports has joined the fray itself by picking up issues with GRTS. A letter addressed to the national broadcaster seen by The Standard stated that GRTS’s claim on its press release that the Eye Africa has signed a contract with Eleven Sports is misleading because even though they are negotiating, no deal has been signed yet.