The co-host of Kerr Fatou Show, Fatou Touray, has rubbished claims made by the management of State-owned TV that the program was yanked off the air due to the coverage of the 2018 Local Government and Municipal Council elections campaign.
Viewers of the popular TV show on Gambia Radio Television Services (GRTS) were left baffled on Thursday night after their favourite program was canceled.
“I got a call Thursday at around 6:30 pm from GRTS, informing me that the program will not be aired. ,” Fatou Touray told this reporter in an exclusive interview.
Over these past months, Kerr Fatou show has been one of the rare TV programs that was able to grow its audience. As the tiny West African nation is enjoying a new democratic dispensation, the new TV show is aimed at discussing hot topics in the news involving the country’s political figures, celebrities etc.
Fatou Touray said she was told that it has to do with political broadcasting, but she was quick to add: “In spite of the political campaign coverage, the TV show has been going on for the past two weeks.”
She went further to say that all TV shows have not been put on hold, adding that the move taken by the national broadcaster is not justified. “Perspective was aired on Friday night as well as series of religious programs. Why Kerr Fatou?” she opined
Suspecting a foul play as it is the second time Kerr Fatou show was taken off air, the TV star confided to this reporter that GRTS Director General Ebrima Sillah told her it is because she interviewed some mayoral candidates and left others.
“GRTS boss did not watch the tape because I made it clear that it was the first batch of mayoral aspirants. Other candidates were supposed to appear in subsequent episodes,” she said while indicating that they had the opportunity to film all candidates in three episodes.
“I have communication with even those who refused to come to the program,” she stated.
When asked whether GRTS decision to shut down Kerr Fatou may contravene the contract binding them, she declined to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, a top GRTS official (name withheld), who spoke to this reporter, said they are busy carrying out their public service mission, and don’t have time to respond to a social media rant.
“We are mandated by the Constitution to bring all the candidates. We have no problem with anybody,” she assured.
She said they particularly informed all their partners about the political coverage that has to take centre stage during elections time.
“Even our 10 o’ clock news is offing. The Director General doesn’t have the power to stop people’s program,” she added. “We cannot break the rules.”
Gambia is recovering from two-decade long dictatorship by the Jammeh regime that was marked by continued clampdown on the media, forcing many journalists to flee the country for fear of reprisals. The new regime has vowed to promote democracy in creating an enabling environment for the media. But recent setbacks have ignited fears of possible attempts by the new administration to muzzle the press.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN