Sri Lanka starts drafting framework for Independent Media Commission

July 18, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s government has convinced media institutions of the need for establishing an Independent Media Commission in the country.

As per the Information Department, a five-member committee has been appointed to prepare the draft.

Wijayananda Jayaweera who was a former communication director at UNESCO has been appointed as its chairman.

Other members of the Committee are Seetha Ranjani, Convener of Free Media Movement, D. Lankapeli from Federation of Media Employees Trade Union Federation, Upali Arambawela, representative of electronic media and R Bharathi from Sri Lanka Tamil Media Collective.

The first meeting to prepare a preliminary draft for the appointment of the proposed commission will be held today.

It has also been suggested that they draw attention to the professional status of Journalists including a minimum wage and to re-issue the media identity cards under a different methodology as certain persons abuse the system.

The committee is to obtain views and proposals of various sectors of the society including journalists, civil organizations and lawyers regarding the establishment of the Independent Media Commission.

President Maithripala Sirisena recently pointed out that certain private television channels allocate 80 percent of their air time to criticize the government, giving less than 20 percent to report development activities and policies of the government.

He also criticized a Sunday newspaper for misleading the public, while reiterating that he will not allow any foreign judges to be part of any judicial process in the country.

After he criticized the newspaper, the Information Department issued a press release saying the issue will be explored as media institutions have a responsibility to fulfill by conveying fair and balanced information to the people.

Press publications in Sri Lanka unlike electronic media have a code of ethics prepared by The Editors Guild and Free Media Movement formally adopted by the Sri Lanka Press Institute.