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 FMM, voices for a free media culture with social responsibility, is advocating for ethical media usage and believes that media can be referred to the right direction by self-regularization. It also accepts the fact that such mechanism is more democratic to be derived from within the media community. Further, the FMM was a partner of the “Media Freedom and Social Responsibility” in 1998 and became a partner of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) which was established thereafter. It is also a partner of the Press Complaints Commission, for print media, which was instituted under the SLPI.
Currently, the FMM is lobbying for the media sector to form a self-regularization mechanism and having discussions to make it as self-formed, rather than such attempts are being ruled by the new government as its need. Moreover, it is advocating to establish an independent commission with transparency in order to distribute air frequency which is a public property. So far it has been done according to the choice of the government in power. Also, to promote the freedom of expression and the media freedom in Sri Lanka, the FMM is engaged in some other activities of media reforms such as;
- Improve professionalism among journalists,
- To be a key player in media policy reforms,
- Ensure justice for alleged crimes against media institutes and individuals,
- Conduct research and surveys,
- Strengthen the organization as an individual institute.
The FMM is located at the premises of Sri Lanka Press Institute, 96, Bernard Soyza Mawatha (Kirula Road), Colombo 05.
The FMM does not rely on regular 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, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and IFEX.
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. An Executive Committee consisting of 13 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.