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GPU says gov’t should respect press freedom

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By Omar Bah

The Gambia Press Union, GPU, has used its statement on Press Freedom Day to urge government to consider funding for the media and respect their commitment to press freedom. The day is dedicated for media workers globally to reflect on issues of press freedom and professional ethics. The day is also set aside to support media that are oftentimes targets of violations and abuse.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day is commemorated under the theme “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis,” meant to highlight the significant role journalism plays in informing and educating people.

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The union said discussions on the subject of subvention for the media featured prominently in recommendations from the National Stakeholders Forum earlier this year and have featured in media chiefs’ meetings with the Ministry of Information recently.

“At the GPU, we hope to continue in this direction with the involvement of all media stakeholders and working closely with the government to push forward this agenda,” it added.

The GPU argued that a public subsidy that is content-neutral in order to safeguard independence is important as advertising revenues, the lifeblood for media houses in The Gambia, drop significantly, especially for independent media houses that are not owned by big corporations.

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“It is particularly important to recognise that the media serves some inherent public good and, for the most part, performs a public service role with limited resources by informing and educating the citizens on the government’s policies and programmes and providing them the platform to participate and engage in informed discussions on a daily basis,” the union added.

Public funding, it added, is also essential in ensuring that the media is able to effectively and efficiently deliver on its constitutional mandate as provided for in sections 207 (freedom and responsibility of the media) and 208 (responsibility of the state-owned media) of the Gambian Constitution.

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