Keeping Tabs

June 22, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Thursday announced plans to re-launch a state institution to investigate complaints against newspapers despite the existence of a similar operation run by editors. Media Minister Anura Yapa said the government decided to re-activate the state-run Press Council to work in parallel with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), a private initiative of newspaper editors.

“The Press Council will work in parallel and function separately from the Press Complaints Commission,” Yapa told reporters here.

A previous government had allowed the state-controlled body to fade away in 2002 following the repeal of draconian criminal defamation laws.

This move allowed the PCC to investigate wrongdoing by the media.

The Editors’ Guild established the PCC under the Press Institute which initiated Sri Lanka’s first ever full-fledged journalism college with the support of both private and state-run media organisations.

Editors’ Guild president Upali Tennakoon said he was surprised by the government’s decision. “We established the PCC because the Press Council was not seen as an independent body,” Tennakoon said. “We hope to lobby the authorities to revoke their decision.