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A Response To Hamat Bah- Demba Ali Jawo

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Demba Ali Jawo, Former Minister of Information

By Demba Ali Jawo

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, the Minister of Lands and Regional Governments, Hamat Bah accused me of going against a cabinet recommendation to issue broadcast licenses to a GSM company. I guess he was referring to the licenses issued to the QGroup for QTV and QRadio while I was minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure.
While I do not have all the details with me right now, but the fact is that all the applications for licenses to operate both Tv and radio were extensively discussed in cabinet and approval given for the process to go ahead. It is therefore not true to say that I went against a cabinet recommendation not to issue a license to the QGroup.
While I agree that it may not be quite ideal to issue broadcast licenses to GSM companies, but there were some mitigating factors that warranted the issuing of those licenses. In the first place, it was not QCell which applied for the licenses but the QGroup created a separate company (Core Broadcasting and Multimedia Company Limited) which applied for the licenses and which was legally different from the GSM company. Therefore, there was no legal basis to deny that company a license because, according to due diligence carried out by PURA, it met all the criteria to be issued one. Who am I to go against the recommendations of the technical experts?
Another mitigating factor was that a precedence had already been created when another GSM company was issued with a license to operate a radio station a few years earlier.
As a cabinet minister, I expected Mr. Bah to have known that as information minister, I was the very last cog in the wheel of issuing an operating license to a media house. I depended entirely on the advice of the technicians, especially PURA, whose mandate it is to carry out due diligence in order to determine who has met the criteria to be issued a broadcast license.
Therefore, Mr. Bah was quite unfair to accuse me of going against the recommendations of the cabinet because it was not the case. As far as I am concerned, the process was done in accordance with the dictates of the law, otherwise, PURA would not have recommended for the issuing of the licenses for both QTV and QRadio, as well as all the other media licenses that I signed as a minister. Ironically, his statement was being covered live by QTV, which, according to him, should never have been given a license to operate.
Mr. Bah also seems to have insinuated that I had a personal interest in issuing those licenses, but I would challenge anyone to come up with any shred of evidence that I benefitted from any of the broadcast licenses that I had approved.

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