Sri Lanka to tighten grip on television with broadcast law

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka has formulated a broadcast authority law to regulate electronic media which will be made public soon, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

“The draft prepared by a cabinet subcommittee under Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe,  has discussed with various parties will be given to all media institutions and broadcast media,” Gunawardana said, claiming “We do not have to hide or force anyone” and that a legal framework that can be acceptable to all for all sectors will be introduced.

Gunawardana also said Minister Rajapakshe will discuss the issue with state and private sector stakeholder in a week or two, noting that at the moment Sri Lanka has issued frequencies without conforming to an “international procedures”.

Television frequencies in Sri Lanka are issued under a state television act.

Successive administrations have since around 1980 misused state television duopoly, including for conducting elections,  according to critics.

Private television as well a radio emerged in the 1990s and has since over shadowed state media.

There have been calls by ruling party politicians from time to time to control private media. There are now calls to control social media as well

At a Committee on Public Accounts meeting of the Department of Government Information, ruling coalition legislators also called for regulation of television content.

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