Youssou N’dour’s Television Station Begins Broadcasting In Senegal
After two years of wrangling and political machinations on both sides, Youssou N’dour’s television station; Télévision Futurs Medias, made its broadcast debut in Sénégal on Wednesday. The Grammy award winning singer first applied for a license to broadcast a general media television station in May of 2008.
The license was finally granted after all sides agreed that the station would operate under the rubric of culture and not news or politics. People may talk of ministers and other middling functionaries but I am sure that the ultimate decision was left in the hands of President Wade.
The old man knew that he was being criticised in Youssou’s newspaper [he's becoming quite the media mogul] and he did not want to Youssou to have another more powerful outlet to undermine his grasp on power, or the political ambitions he has for his son, Karim Wade. Wade’s officially stated concern, that the station would be financed by foreigners was embarrassingly disingenuous.
In the months leading up to the moment when the license was granted, , Youssou was savvy enough to show his political muscle by mobilising the citizenry who actually came out in the streets of Dakar to protest Wade’s stalling.
In the past, when asked, Youssou claimed not to have any ambition for elected office himself. I won’t hold him to that. With his newspaper, his radio station [the most popular in Sénégal] and now his teevee station, he’s poised to launch the media campaign whenever he likes, that could propel him to the presidential chair.
He has already asserted that, despite the designation of Television Futurs Medias (TFM) as a cultural station, he and his team will still find a way to cover social issues. It will be fascinating to see the chess moves he will be executing in a bid to further buttress his position for the day when that fateful declaration will be made.
It’s all interesting in light of the song Youssou wrote and recorded years ago. “Live Television” is a song bemoaning the intrusion of television on traditional social interaction.
It related how a man visited his friend but instead of engaging in the usual African custom of greeting and enquiring about relatives and catching up on news, the host turned on the television and started watching. No doubt he would not criticise such action today, as long as all Sénégal watches TFM.
N’dour’s private media group also operates a popular radio station, Radio Futurs Medias (RFM) and a large-circulation daily newspaper called L’Observateur, which have often been critical of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s government and it’s policies.