The new APNU+AFC administration is expected to shake up the state-owned media entities as it seeks to have a more professional state media in place.
News Source understands that the new government is already expected to probe the operations of the state-owned National Communications Network.
NCN currently has 166 permanent staff members. But there are at least 20 other persons who are on the company’s payroll but do not work for the company or have any professional relationship with it.
The 20 persons listed on the payroll who do not work at NCN are all stationed at the Office of the President as “media monitors” for a unit that was set up by former Information Liason to the President, Kwame McCoy.
The Unit was set up under the Jagdeo presidency and has remained in place ever since. It’s main function is to monitor the local news media and social media pages of media personalities and public figures and come up with counter arguments and positions to their posts and letters in the press.
During the just concluded elections, the McCoy media monitors were tasked with creating fake Facebook profiles and instructed to post various messages on different social media pages.
News Source understands that it was McCoy and other officials of the last administration who had instructed that the members of the unit be placed on the NCN payroll. The 20 staffers are paid $22,000 every two weeks and it is believed that their names also exist on the payroll of at least two other government agencies.
Members of the state media transition team from the APNU+AFC government met with the Chief Executive Officer and senior staff of the National Communications Network and the Government Information Agency on Monday morning.
The APNU+AFC team was made up of media expert and former parliamentarian Cathy Hughes who is expected to be in the new cabinet, along with Public Relations consultant Imran Khan and APNU Communications Director and Candidate, Mark Archer.
The issue of the 20 non staffers on NCN’s payroll came up for discussion during the NCN meeting. News Source understands that the NCN senior staff members were told that they need to focus more on balanced coverage and equitable access for all of the political parties, including the PPP which was just thrown out of office and never allowed equitable access to the opposition parties.
Management at both NCN and GINA were assured the new government does not intend to go on a witch hunt and be vindictive in its employment policy.
The Director of GINA, Neaz Subhan who was the stage director for some of the PPP rallies, offered his resignation during his meeting with the government team.
He was told that at this stage, the government is completing a transition process and therefore he should stay in place as that process continues and the government settles in.