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Government Gazette

New media laws timely - Minister Anura Yapa

COLOMBO: Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said the new media regulations introduced recently to all private electronic channels via a special gazette notification, was a timely move to streamline the industry in a fully transparent manner.

Minister Yapa addressing the Cabinet press briefing at the Government Information Department Auditorium at Narahenpita yesterday said that the enactments was in no wise imposed with a hidden agenda, and in haste.

There had been lengthy and constructive discussions since 2006 on the relevant issues, before reaching this decision. The regulations were framed in conformity and in line with the regulations of other countries in similar situations such as India, Australia and Hong Kong. “It was certainly a need of the hour,” he added.

The Minister said all private electronic media channels are deemed to conform to the new regulations imposed by the Government, by the Minister of Mass Media and Information under Section 31 of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Act, No.6 of 1982, to obtain their licences.

He said a special Advisory Board appointed by a special gazette notification, will ascertain whether a particular television channel adheres and conforms to the regulations, prior to the issuance of a licence. All television channels are required to forward their application for the respective licence in the various categories prior to November 24.

The Advisory Board has been empowered to analyze the adherence to the stipulated criteria in an independent and fair manner. The set of regulations however had been approved by the Attorney General’s Department, with a broad option of seeking redress and legal assistance, if any grieved party presumes the Advisory Board had been biased or impartial and consequently denied of its rights.

The Ministry has been incapable of issuing permanent licences to private television channels, due to the unavailability of such enactments. This placed the Government in a precarious situation in respect of several legal battles, he said.

Responding to a query, on allegations by certain quarters, as to the ‘Conflict of Interest’ on the part of the subject, Minister who controls two TV stations, Minister Yapa refuted such claims pointing out that they have not deviated from the norms of media freedom.

Although the Minister holds certain powers in the process, he has no powers to take decisions arbitrarily. The Minister could act only on the recommendations of a committee, and even after that, one could challenge that decision too, in Court.

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