The Free Media Movement evolved out of the Standing Committee of Journalists, which was formed in late 1991, as a collective enterprise of journalists and media personnel to critique and respond to moves by then government of the time to introduce a Media Commission to Sri Lanka.
The first public meeting of the group as the Free Media Movement was held in Colombo in June 1992.
Since then the FMM has continued to be active in all areas relating to media freedom, defending the rights of journalists and media people, calling for reform of repressive legislation, agitating against censorship and intimidation of media personnel and standing for broad principles of democratic and human rights.
Through the years, the FMM has become the watchdog of media freedom in Sri Lanka, and has also developed an extensive network of links with other media freedom and human rights groups internationally.
- The Free Media Movement is a non-partisan independent group of journalists, newspaper editors and media personalities who are committed to freedom of expression, opinion and information. Calling for an end to government control of media institutions and the restructuring of these institutions has been a key area of focus of the FMM.
- The FMM stands for a plural and democratic society in Sri Lanka, enabling the articulation of different ethnic identities, social interests, ideologies and opinions.
The broad goals of the FMM could be articulated as follows:
- Protection and enhancement of legal freedoms of expression and information in general, and the rights of media professionals in particular.
- Maintenance and advancement of professional resources, i.e. training, professional production standards, professional ethics and access to information etc.
In the course of its work, the FMM undertakes the following activities:
- A regular assessment of the media situation
- Urgent responses to incidents of harassment of journalists, imposition of censorship
- Responses to processes of legal reform or restructuring that have a direct impact on media freedom
The FMM organizes pickets and demonstrations, issue press releases to the local and foreign press, lobbies with Parliamentarians and policy-makers, networks with other media freedom groups and acts as a support for local media personnel.
In addition, members of the FMM are often invited to address seminars and public gatherings on issues of media freedom in schools, in provincial towns as well as in the main urban centres.
The FMM does not have accommodation or infrastructure facilities of its own. It originally functioned in a very informal way, using the personal address of the Convenor as the FMM address. Since 1997 FMM has used the office facilities of INFORM, a human rights documentation centre based in Colombo.
The FMM does not rely on outside funding for its maintenance. Most of the administrative expenses of the Organisation are met out of the annual subscription paid by members. Costs of each activity and programme are met through contributions raised from among groups and individuals associated with the FMM and committed to media freedom. Some projects and programmes the FMM is involved in are funded by donors, such as the Corruption Watch initiative.
The membership of the FMM consists of founder members that came together as the FMM in 1992, and of media persons who have joined the Organisation subsequently. Details of the procedures relating to membership are laid out in the Constitution, a copy of which is attached to this proposal.
An Executive Committee consisting of 17 members is appointed each year at an annual general meeting, and of this Committee the group selects a Convenor, Secretary, Asst. Secretary, Treasurer and Asst. Treasurer. The Ex. Co. meets once a month and attends a administrative matters.
There are several permanent sub committees set up to attend to urgent matters that may arise between the monthly meetings of the Ex. Co.