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.