The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), scheduled to start its work today finds itself having to issue a lengthy press release explaining the procurement process it employed that resulted in the award of the contract to QTV, a privately-owned and operated, over GRTS, the government’s own national radio and television service  to cover the proceedings of the TRRC.

To calm the nerves of those the Executive Director of the TRRC ascribed responsibility for the “erroneous and wild speculations especially on social media”, he assures the general public that 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.”  According to the Commission’s press release, the Commission’s own media team will be responsible for the supervision and distribution of the audio and video footages to all interested parties.

One of our fears was allayed with the assurance from the Executive Director that the contract with QTV did not grant the company exclusivity as it concerns coverage of the TRRC’s proceedings which we take to mean that other media outlets, specifically the online radio and television platforms, will be granted access and authorization to cover the Commission’s proceedings for their respective audiences.

We learned from the press release that a total of   media houses responded to the Commission’s Request for Proposals (RFPs).  These were Impact Palace (EyeAfrica TV), QTV, Mediamatic (Paradise TV), GRTS and State of Mic.  Their proposals were based on the technical envelop comprising of four components on which they were evaluated: (a) capacity to record live proceedings (b) capacity to facilitate video conferencing of witness outside the Gambia (c) capacity to distort voices and images for witnesses who request anonymity and (d) capacity to develop a mobile App for the TRRC so the public can access proceedings.

After what was described as extensive deliberations, the Contracts Committee and the Communications Unit, it was decided “in terms of the TRRC’s needs, QTV and GRTS were ranked as “the best qualified bidders.”  When the financial envelops were considered the “balance tipped in favor of QTV.”

The privately-owned and operated television station quoted D150,000 for every month of filming regardless of the number of proceedings or location where they take place.  The publicly-owned and frequently sub-vented GRTS television station on the other hand quoted D30,000 for a month’s filming, D200,000 for a week’s filming and D800,000 for a month’s filming.  There appears to be no price variation due to the number of proceeding or location in the GRTS price quotation.

The Executive Director sees the TRRC’s decision to award the contract to QTV as nothing more than renting the station’s equipment and its personnel for lack of television equipment and personnel of its own.  And as regards accessibility of the audio and video transcripts of the proceedings to the rest of the media companies, he assured “every media house, including QTV and GRTS, will receive footage and audio recordings…”

Although the issue of media access to the venue has been addressed and their ability to cover the proceedings appears to be limited to note taking, the larger and more thornier issues such as copyrights, intellectual property and distribution rights issues are less clear but where the potential to generate substantial revenue is greatest to supplement government’s subvention, especially to the Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations.

We have reached out to both the Information Minister and the Executive Director on these outstanding matters and any further information are ready and willing to share with us.  We will keep our readers informed including, of course, those following us on social media.

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