OPINION: UDP's boycott is hurting Fatou's purse

Written by Saul Sarr

UDP Fatou

A legion of United Democratic Party (UDP) faithful had backed their earlier threat of boycotting The Fatu Network with action which left its CEO, Fatou Camara, counting her pennies.

Host of the popular weekly Tonya Kesso talk show, Mohammed Darboe, invited fellow comic Ebou Bah aKa Serigne Thiapathioly as a guest on Saturday, 3rd July to heat the polity. Mr. Bah made unprintable startling revelations or insulting, libelous accusations against UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, depending on who you ask or which side of the political divide one leans on.

Soon after the live stream ended, the irked party faithful, in a coordinated effort, decided to unfollow and boycott the medium forthwith. Tech-savvy observers noticed that the Network lost thousands of active followers and viewers within 48 hours. Although Fatou Camara is working overtime to mask this reality.

Ms Camara’s initial reaction to the boycott threat was why should they boycott her almighty medium in an election year? Giving the impression it is their loss.

Now let’s crunch some numbers to fact-check her, shall we? Published stories of The Fatu Network have an average readership of about 2000 (half of which are in the diaspora who will not be voting). Posted videos have an average view of about 10,000 (half of which comes from the diaspora). With an estimated one million registered voters, her news stories are only reaching 0.1% of electorates and videos 0.5% of electorates.

It is obvious that Fatou Camara (and her medium) exaggerated her importance and influence. A recent sampling confirmed that It is traditional radio most Gambians rely on for information and not the new media. As things stand, the media cannot win or lose you elections in The Gambia, grassroots mobilisation can.

As the effects of the boycott kick in, Fatou Camara through her fanboys and girls, plastered bogus statistics all over Facebook to show that their numbers are going up and the boycott did the reverse of its intention. What she is doing is called “reverse psychology.” The plan was to make the deserters believe that their boycott has no effect, so they should rather rethink and come back. She is in a panic state, she is being hit where it hurts most, the pocket.

For the past three years, whenever her rivals trounced her in the ratings war, she accused them of buying followers and viewers. It seems she now resorts to what she accused her rivals of doing.

There is a saying in Ollof “Kouy tega, kouy fetcha mou takh.” School wouldn’t be school without students, imagine a hospital without patients. Don’t let her make you believe that she doesn’t need your patronage. She’s psyching you into defeat. Some pockets of society boycotting her network would probably make no difference, but the UDP has a large online presence, more than any other party in the Gambia. I am one of the biggest critics of the UDP, but I cannot deny this fact.

The Fatu Network has three known revenue streams: YouTube channel, google ads placed on the site and traditional advertisements. YouTube payment for views from third-world countries is very low; so, I am assuming they are not making much from it. For the other two, they need high traffic to the site and large engaged followers respectively to keep the money coming. To get a boycott by half of their active followers will no doubt affect their cash flow.

I was told her refusal to back down is to not set a precedent. A template that can be copied by others whenever they have a run-in with the network.

By Saul Sarr
The United Kingdom