FMM express its shock and disbelief that government authorities shamelessly ordered state controlled TV station SLRC to stop a live TV programme related to freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. On 4th November State controlled SLRC abruptly stopped a live TV discussion on recently imposed Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations without giving any reasons to the audience.
The SLRC had invited FMM convener Uvindu Kurululasuriya to participate in the discussion to represent media organisations. Other two panelists were Mr. Chritha Harath, adviser to the media minister and Mr. Damma Disanayaka, a university lecturer. After 45 minutes the discussion was stopped suddenly, a commercial break was announced and stations started to play songs continuously discontinuing the live discussion.
FMM condemns this direct censorship by state authorities in strongest terms. This is a clear violation of peoples’ right to know. Further it shows the government’s negative and shameless attitude towards peoples’ right to know. This authoritarian and arrogant attitude of government authorities of ordering to stop a live TV discussion is an irony which shows real intentions of the government in bringing new laws to control TV broadcasting. The discussion itself was on the same subject of state regulation of media.
This act of censorship again reinforces our position that government should not be allowed to regulate media either print or electronic. If a minister who act unethically and unscrupulously to censor a live TV debate on regulations imposed by himself becomes the regulator of all privately own TV stations as envisaged by the regulations FMM fears that all TV stations will have be his masters voice.
FMM hopes that there will not be any which hunt against he FMM convener Uvindu Kurululasuriya who expressed FMM poison at the discussion strongly criticizing the new regulations. It is very clear that the programme was stopped mainly to censor FMM convener criticizing the authoritarian intentions of the government in imposing these regulations.
Once again FMM requests the government to withdraw these obnoxious relegations immediately. FMM reiterates its position that if the aim is to establish a legitimate regime of fair, transparent and accountable regulation, to enter into open consultations with those directly affected, the media profession and broader civil society, so that a proper legal framework in this regard may be developed.