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MINISTER DENIES DIRECTIVE STOPPING SOES FROM ADVERTISING ON SELECTED MEDIA

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By Tabora Bojang

The Minister of Information, Lamin Queen Jammeh, has denied allegations that Gambia government has orally transmitted a directive to all State-Owned Enterprises not to advertise or sign contracts with selected media houses perceived to be critical of government.

The allegations were made Monday by Fatou Touray, the CEO of Kerr Fatou online TV platform. She alleged on Home Digital Radio that the Chief of Staff at State House had sent a text to heads of SOEs not to ‘feed the lion that is bringing the regime down’ referring to Kerr Fatou.

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Meanwhile, The Standard too has been reliably informed by credible sources quoting senior officials of some SOEs that they have been unofficially told not to advertise or sign contract with a list of media houses believed to be critical of the Barrow government.

Our sources said media houses black listed include The Standard, The Voice, Home Digital, King FM and Kerr Fatou. Indeed, The Standard has confirmed that one of the media houses listed has had its contract with one of the SOEs not renewed while other SOEs have informed the particular media outlet that there are issues and that there may not be a new contract.

“There is no doubt that something along this line has been discussed or about to be. They consider those media houses to be critical of the government or sympathetic to the opposition and should not have government advertisements,” our source added.

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The Standard contacted all the media houses in the alleged blacklist about the matter. While most of them said they have not been told about or suffered from such a directive yet, one media outlet has confirmed that it has already had two SOEs that have cancelled their contracts while others have said they will not be offering new ones.

However, when confronted with these allegations, the Minister of Information Lamin Queen Jammeh said the allegations are mere opinions. “These are mere opinions and allegations. And I don’t consider them serious. It is within the responsibility of government through cabinet to discuss matters of state concern but this is a new story to me and between me and Allah, there had not been any discussions in cabinet against any media house. Such matters were never brought to the attention of the cabinet,” the minister stressed.

He added the interesting thing is that the more expressions of this nature arise “the greater the comfort we have as a government because it goes to tell that there is freedom of expression without which there would have been limitations on the extent of people’s freedom of expression”.

The Standard also contacted the Chief of Staff who did not pick our call or reply to our message requesting comments.

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