Nov 21, 2016

‘Transparency of Media Secretary’s action on Derana, problematic’

The Free Media Movement says it likes to draw the attention of media community to the actions taken by the Secretary of the Media Ministry against Ada Derana News, accusing it for falsification of a speech by President Maithreepala Sirisena.

In a statement, the FMM questions the availability of a system that a victim can lodge a complaint or initiate an inquiry on behalf of victims, against an act of violation of ethics by an electronic media. There is a self-regularizing mechanism guided by a Code of Ethics which is implemented by the media community, in a violation of ethics by print media such as inaccurate reporting, distortion, prejudice and contempt.

The system that has implemented by the government, named as ‘draconian law’ which is rejected by the media community is also available. However, there is no complaint or investigation mechanism guided by a common Code of Ethics for electronic media. In this context, the transparency of the action taken by the Secretary of the Media Ministry of accusing a media institution for prejudicing a party with the state power and initiating an investigation, is problematic. Further, according to the report by Derana TV, the second letter which requested a response within 7 days, was received by them leaving 1 day to respond.

The FMM has observed the ways in which the Secretary of the Media Ministry has been issuing statements and acting in a non-critical manner. Even though many parties kept silence due to grave accusations of money-laundering and several malpractices, the cancellation of CSN license is also be considered as an unreasonable act. Another observation was the letter sent to media organizations requesting not to use the term ‘collective opposition’.

This incident related to Derana emphasizes the need of an acceptable, independent or self-regulatory mechanism for electronic media. As the FMM has lobbied many occasions, media can work freely without any government intervention and fear of losing the license, only through the establishment of an independent broadcasting authority as well as an independent/self regulatory system for ethics. Therefore, the moment has arisen for electronic media community to work together to achieve this goal.