By Dr Baba Galleh Jallow
Over the past several days the TRRC has had to manage a lot of controversy surrounding the award of a contract to QTV. One of the rumors making the rounds is that QTV was awarded the contract because Muhammed Jah has a brother working at the TRRC. Nothing is further from the truth. Muhammed Jah has no brother that we know of working at the TRRC. It is also not true that QTV is awarded the contract because Muhammed Jah and the TRRC Executive Secretary attended Fourah Bay College at the same time. Equally erroneous are suggestions that this is a deal designed to either steal or waste taxpayers’ money, or that there is some kind of bribery and corruption involved.
Contrary to these and other erroneous and wild speculations especially on social media, QTV is not granted exclusive coverage rights for the TRRC proceedings. The contract is for QTV to provide technical backup for the TRRC media team by providing the technical capacity to record, edit, and process the proceedings as necessary. The TRRC media team will supervise the process and distribute audio and video footage to all interested media houses to publish as they wish.
The primary reason for the TRRC’s seeking help with this work is that the commission does not currently have the resources to purchase and install its own video recording and processing equipment. Moreover, the award of the contract followed a rigorous and transparent bidding process, including solicitations of proposals and subsequent presentations by all interested media houses before members of the TRRC Contracts Committee and Communications Unit on December 21st, 2018 at the TRRC conference room.
At that meeting with the Contracts Committee and Communications Unit, presentations were made by every media houses that submitted a proposal. These were Impact Palace (EyeAfrica TV), QTV, Mediamatic (Paradise TV), GRTS, and State of Mic. Each of these media houses were expected to justify their individual charges and demonstrate how they meet the following requirements:
1. Their capacity to record live proceedings and other activities of the Commission without hindrance
2. Their capacity to facilitate video conferencing testimony for witnesses outside The Gambia
3. Their capacity to distort voices/images of witnesses who request anonymity
4. Their capacity to develop a mobile App for the TRRC so the public can access proceedings
After the departure of the media houses, the Contracts Committee and Communications Unit deliberated at length and decided that in terms of the TRRC’s needs, QTV and GRTS were the best qualified bidders. The balance tipped in favor of QTV largely because of the huge differences in their respective charges. QTV was asking for D150, 000 for a month’s filming irrespective of number of sittings or where the sittings are held. GRTS was asking for D30, 000 for a day’s filming, D200, 000 for a week’s filming, and D800, 000 for a month’s filming. Clearly, we cannot afford the kind of money GRTS is asking for. And so it should be obvious why we opted to go for QTV.
Let us reiterate at this point that what we did is essentially rent QTV’s equipment and personnel support to film our proceedings and facilitate their processing. Every interested media house, including QTV and GRTS, will receive footage and audio recordings of the hearings from the TRRC media team for airing and publishing as they deem fit. The TRRC owns the rights and will keep all recordings for our archives.
Meanwhile, journalists from all interested media houses – national and international – are currently being accredited to cover the proceedings. Journalists can sit in the hall and take notes but due to the potential sensitivity of some of the proceedings, only contracted partner cameras will be allowed in the hall to record the proceedings for later release to all media houses at the same time. Due to limited space capacity in the main hall, at least one large screen will be placed at the entrance to the hall so that journalists and others who may not fit inside can still watch the live proceedings.