The New Broadcasting Station Regulations

A statement by the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo

The recently gazetted Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations and the intended Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Act are very worrying and must awaken all democratic minded Sri Lankans

While the stated intention of these regulations is to ensure National harmony and security they also give the Media Minister wide ranging powers to control the right of the people to information and to diverse opinions.

It is understood that there has been no consultation with those who operate Private TV Stations and there is also a view that this gazette notification disregards a previous Supreme Court ruling.

The clause that enables Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation channels to be imposed on satellite or cable TV stations is a serious violation of the right of discretion of these Operators and the right of selection for viewers.

The thrust of these regulations indicate a fear that the people will not hear and know the truth and this is not a healthy sign. The freedom given to the media is in the final analysis an indication of the dignity and respect that a Government has for the people. The integrity of the whole nation will be at stake if these regulations and implemented.

Consequently I call upon the President and the Media Minister to put this decision on hold, seek the advice of the Attorney General in terms of the existing law and the Supreme Court ruling and initiate a dialogue with TV Station Operators and Civil Society. Any steps taken thereafter to ensure National harmony and security must also ensure the freedom of the private media and the right of people to information.

Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
5 November 2008