The government's proposed Broadcasting Authority Act was criticized by the main opposition at a press conference held Wednesday.
Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva warned the said legislation, touted as an effort to advance the mass media, actually serves as a tool for the government to crack down on and manipulate the media to suit its own agenda.
According to de Silva, the proposed Bill contains provisions that enable the government to exert pressure on and control media outlets that do not align with its ideology.
Such measures, he argues, are fundamentally incompatible with the principles of a democratic society.
"One of the cornerstones of democracy is the freedom to hold differing opinions. The media cannot be subject to the whims of a particular authority. They should have the autonomy to express their views independently," de Silva stressed.
"This right to free expression is a fundamental tenet of any democratic society. The proposed Broadcasting Authority Act aims to stifle the media, and we will not stand for it."
He also further cautioned that the government's motives behind this legislation mirror its previous attempts to suppress the media through the failed Anti-Terrorism Act.
He contends that, having faced resistance to their oppressive measures, the government is now seeking alternative avenues to fulfill its objective of muzzling critical voices, and the Broadcasting Authority Act is their latest attempt to do so.
The concerns raised by de Silva underscore the need for a robust and independent media sector, one that can act as a vital check on governmental power and foster a thriving democratic society.
It is crucial that policymakers and citizens alike closely examine the proposed legislation and its potential implications on press freedom, ensuring that any changes made to media regulations do not infringe upon the democratic principles that underpin our society.