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Information minister denies Pura pressured by president to go after King FM

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By Tabora Bojang

The minister of Information Lamin Queen Jammeh has said President Adama Barrow is not interested in any attempts to undermine freedom of expression and access to information rights in the country.

The minister vehemently denied allegations that the president has hands in national regulator Pura’s recent decision to threaten punitive actions against King FM radio for “violation of its licence terms.” The regulator sent the warning letter to KING FM on Wednesday.

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Many observers attributed Pura’s actions to executive influence following criticisms by President Barrow and supporters of his ruling NPP against certain unnamed radio stations.

King FM radio also charged that Pura’s decision was ‘political’ based on the nature and type of content it was broadcasting which is considered critical of the government.

But speaking to The Standard yesterday, Information Minister Jammeh said: “If President Barrow or the government had had any intention to interfere in the media that would have been done a long time ago. President Barrow strongly believes in the application of the law so for that reason I would maintain that there has not been any interference from anywhere as far as this government is concerned.”

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The minister further claimed that a good number of radio stations are violating part of their licence requirement which oblige them to connect with national broadcaster GRTS during its news times. He said government could have relied on such violations to “pounce” on radios if it was motivated by other motives.

The minister however said he is yet to see the letter from Pura to King FM.

He said people associating it with politics are the very ones politicising the matter.

“The public and the media actors should also be opened enough to accept the truth that Pura as a regulator has a responsibility to carry out. But if anytime they do their job and people attribute it to government influence then they are prejudicing them. As a regulator when Pura takes decisions that are within its purview and mandate we should not interpret it otherwise until it is materially proven,” Queen Jammeh stated.

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