|Saturday, 6 November 2004|
State media compelled to respect people's mandate: Mangala
by Ranil Wijayapala
The time has come to initiate a free and frank discussion for the organisation genuinely committed to free media culture on why state owned media institutions are pushed into the unhappy position of being the sole propagator of the government, Information and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the workshop on "Intra State conflict in South Asia", organised by the South Asia Free Media Association and hosted by the Sri Lankan chapter of the SAFMA, Minister Samaraweera said the role played by state media in Sri Lanka has come under criticism.
Addressing a gathering of media representatives from South Asian countries, Minister Samaraweera said that the state media in Sri Lanka was compelled to respect the people's mandate by informing the public clearly, accurately and without distortion, the views and policies of the government.
The Minister said Sri Lanka has to face this as most of the private media, both print and electronic, are owned and managed by a few business interests who are distinctly hostile towards centrist or left of centre governments.
He said there have been many instances when news items pertaining to the President, or her governments have been fabricated, distorted or simply ignored; diluting or censoring the positive news while exaggerating and sensationalizing the negative news.
"This has become de rigueur for some sections of the media today", the Minister added.
"As a result centrist Governments like ours are made to depend on state media in a manner, which I agree is not keeping with best media practices", the Minister added.
The Minister said some would agree with the idea that the manipulation of the news flow by a few media moguls with clear political affiliations is as unacceptable as a government trying to obstruct the free flow of information.
"The free flow of information is the cornerstone and basis for any democracy; however the free flow of information must be a two way street; if not we may well pave the way for an era of media dictatorship replacing the political dictatorship of the 20th century.
Minister of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration D.E.W. Gunasekara also spoke.
Produced by Lake House