(lankadissent.org – Monday, 27 October 2008 18:30 )
Minister of Mass Media and Information Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, in gazette extraordinary no: 1570/35 dated October 10th, has introduced new curbs on private television channels.
“Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations of 2007” says “a license issued shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of its issue and may thereafter be renewed for a further period of one year each, upon application for a renewal of the license being made by the licensee.”
It says a license may be cancelled on the grounds of change in ownership of the television broadcasting station in respect of which the license was issued and all other Associated movable, immovable and intellectual assets, which includes a change in the shareholding if the licensee is a company, without the prior approval of the Minister; broadcasting programs which are:
(i) detrimental to the interests of national security; (ii) inciting breakdown of public order; (iii) inciting ethnic, religious or cultural hatred; (iv) in violation of any laws of the country; (v) morally offensive or indecent; (vi) detrimental to the rights and privileges of children; (vii) in violation of the code of ethics, standards and practices of television broadcasting.
A recognized political party shall not be eligible to obtain a license for the establishment or maintenance of a private television broadcasting station or a network, it says.
Where any person to whom a license is issued thereafter becomes a member of a recognized political party during the period of the validity of the license, he shall be required to immediately surrender the license, the gazette extraordinary says.
A person who applies for a license shall submit the audited annual accounts to the Ministry, it says.
Also, the Minister shall have the right to suspend the permission granted to a licensee to operate any channel for a specified period, in the interest of the public or in the interest of national security, in order to prevent the misuse of such channel, the gazette extraordinary says.
In the event of such a suspension, the licensee shall immediately comply with the directive issued by the Minister in this regard, it says.