Written by Lahiru Fernando
08 Jul, 2017 | 10:44 pm
We have been reporting constantly on the ‘Independent council for news media standards’ act which has provisions to penalize journalists.
The council will not only be able to impose fines and prison sentences against Media Institutions and Journalists, it can also make Media Institutions bound to disclose all information.
Dr. Ranga Kalansuriya (Director General of Government Information) said on July 5 that the announcement was made at the cabinet meeting and that the approval was to receive the public’s opinion. However, what the then-Minister of Mass Media said was something…different, on the specific cabinet meeting.
Minister Gayantha karunatileka: “… We are not prepared to enforce anything. Media Organizations , Owners of Media Institutions , Journalists, Citizens and Intellectuals can submit their suggestions …”
It has now been established that the process of preparing this document and deliberations have taken place without any transparency.
Other Ministers respond to the document…
The State Minister of Highways Dilan Perera said that if it is a person playing a role “to earn brownie points”, let them do so.
“These documents must come to Parliament to be passed. I ask the Media Institutions, do not panic. There is no need to suppress the media.” said the minister.
Meanwhile Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka (Minister of Regional Development) stated that the said document was not discussed by Ministers.
The statement made by Dr. Ranga Kalansuriya, claiming to have discussed the matter with Media Organizations, has been proven to be false.
According to the ‘Free Media Movement’, no discussions have taken place apart from the first ever discussion on the document. The FMM says that neither the movement or it’s representative Seetha Ranjani had been informed of any.
Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association has announced that it never attended any meeting in relation to appointing a committee or any other matter on regulating the media.
September 24, 2016 – The GID Director General Ranga Kalansuriya stated the following.
“The role of media institutions is not to collect aid. That should be stopped if possible.”
The public has expressed displeasure over this statement made by Kalansuriya.
“… The Media have always stood by us. The NGOs have never supported us …”
“… Whenever a natural disaster takes place, the Media comes us like brethren. This was evident during the recent floods. It is indeed questionable as to why there’s an attempt to destroy that …”
“… The Media gives us a meal packets. It is two days later that the government officers come to inquire in to our well being. If there is an attempt to suppress the media that fulfills is responsibilities, we vehemently condemn that …”
“… The media renders a service that is beyond the state mechanism. This can be seen as an attempt to supress them and impose restrictions on them. Therefore we as the general public would like to inform the Director General of Government Information that the media knows its limited. Before you impose limits on the media, you must understand what your limits are …”
“… These so-called Directors of Media and others, were never seen in television even in the recent past. They are not connected to the day to day lives of people. Therefore the requirement via the government is to present a code of ethics aimed to suppress the media …”
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