Pa Modou Bojang, CEO Home Digital FM
By Buba Gagigo
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has written to Home Digital Radio Station demanding that the station substantiate two allegations that were aired on a Mengbe Kering live program on November 19, 2022.
In the letter addressed to Home Digital FM, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) said it is concerned about allegations that false money entered the Gambia Central Bank with impunity and that poor people’s groundnuts were purchased using false money with impunity.
“The Authority is in receipt of an audio recording of your Mengbe Kering live program, which was aired on the 19 of November 2002, here transcribed for ease of reference. The Authority has observed with great concern that during this Mengbe Kering live program, it was alleged as transcribed below that “false money entered the Gambia Central Bank with impunity “Poor peoples’ groundnuts were purchased using false money with impunity,” PURA said through a letter written to Home Digital Radio.
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The letter continued: “Since these allegations were broadcast and aired over Home Digital FM Radio medium, coupled with the fact that your license conditions call for factual and accurate as well as impartial reporting.” the authority referenced section 238(1) of the IC Act 2009, requests for Home Digital FM to substantiate these allegations on or before the 9th of May 2023, saying “Failure to respond as stipulated will result in action taken against Home Digital Radio station”.
“Then Authority invites reference to the, the IC Act 2009, Section 238. (1) which states that:
Subject to this section, it shall be the duty of every person holding a broadcasting license under this Act to (a) present all news in a factually accurate, impartial and non-partisan manner.
“(b) present current affairs in a balanced, clear, factual, accurate and impartial manner
Consequently, based on the above License and IC Act conditions, the Authority is requesting Home Digital FM to substantiate these allegations on or before the 9th of May 2023 by close of work. Failure to respond as stipulated will result in action taken against Home Digital Radio station,” PURA said.
When our team reached out to Pa Modou Bojang, the CEO of Home Digital FM, to get his reaction to the letter, he acknowledged receipt of the letter and stated that they will not be intimidated by anyone. He said that they will continue to deliver their journalistic inquiries with enthusiasm and without fear or favor.
This is the second letter sent to media houses in the last two days. Yesterday, we reported that King FM received a similar letter from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) demanding that they provide reasons why they should not face punitive actions for unspecified reasons.
It is worth noting that during the President’s meeting with religious leaders at the State House to commemorate Idul Fitr, he called for the media to be kept in check, especially community radios. These letters from PURA, coming so soon after the President’s pronouncement, have put many press freedom advocates on edge, fearing that this could be the beginning of a media clampdown similar to that practiced by the previous government. The current government had vowed not to repeat the mistakes of the past, but the last two days have left many wondering.