CHR Reports
Given below is
a list of reports by CHR
Freedom of Expression
Sri Lanka needs National Media Commission

Sri Lanka needs National Media Commission

2012 Dec 13

By  Shenali Waduge
In the absence of self-regulation by mass media and communication channels there is a need for content analysis by a competent and unbiased team. The scale of lies, fabrication and distortion is not a local experience only. We have come to a stage where people cannot trust international media. Much of the current state of media as a result of the influence that comes from foreign sources and the negative manner in which media have joined hands to partner political campaigns is absent from self-regulation.

Sri Lanka’s situation is a sensitive one. On the one hand we have a country that was burdened with a problem created from colonial occupation which transpired into a terrorist movement that was finally defeated after three decades. Those associated with that terror still continue to destabilize as well as to continue the conversion campaigns camouflaged by humanitarian assistance. The media has become a perfect vehicle to run every campaign possible to dislodge nations and upset cultures.

In the present scenario we are well aware that local journalists are being funded and sponsored to write against their own country from foreign locations ridiculing every effort the country makes to stand on its feet. These overseas located local journalists are paid to use their local knowledge to fabricate lies, create mischief and promote a general feeling of mistrust amongst communities. Moreover, they have to continue to spin lies to get paid uninterrupted.
Is there no better way to change governments without ridiculing an entire nation and using one’s pen to portray an unjust nation that discriminates and is undemocratic - whatever democracy is supposed to mean?

Buddhists have been singularly targeted Buddhists through the English press. Newspapers routinely carry anti-Buddhist articles while those questioning other faiths are not entertained.  The Sunday Times has published an article questioning the gender of Lord Buddha (December 2,) while another daily had a column under a Muslim pseudonym created by its former editor attacking Buddhists for the crimes in Sri Lanka. Both the editor and the author have breached the code of journalistic ethics and the same editor is guilty of forcing Buddhists to follow Bible classes after office hours!  There was another instance of the authenticity of the Sacred Tooth relic being questioned by a Muslim.  No newspaper editor would ever entertain even a word that questions, for example, the alleged miracles mentioned in the Bible.

Not a single editorial mentioned the destruction of the Buddhist temples and ancient artifacts in Bangladesh while so much publicity was given to the incident in Dambulla where the Muslims did not have any right to put up a mosque!
What is perhaps needed is a National Press Commission along the lines suggested by Justice K. D. de Silva in 1964. Such a body would include Content Analysis and would expose the anti-national, anti-Buddhist, pro-LTTE bias of both newspaper and the associated journalists and take appropriate action against them. Such a procedure would definitely curtail the disregard for journalistic ethics that presently exist. If media cannot verify details – they should be magnanimous enough to state the fact and refraining from publishing material or endorsing inaccurate views.

We have come to a stage where simply debating and pointing fingers can lead Sri Lanka’s future generations nowhere. Both state and private media need to reflect on the ground situation and acknowledge that prejudice and bias exist. 
The 1964 K. D. de Silva Press Commission report concluded that news was slanted, distorted or fabricated to serve the owners of the newspapers. Very little has changed since. The Commission also concluded that newspapers had been guilty of acting hostile towards the interests of the country and Buddhism - the religion of the majority. The status quo remains the same:

“If these English language newspapers were sufficiently patriotic they could have made a very useful contribution to bringing about unity among the various communities ……………….they should have advised minority groups to adapt themselves to the changing circumstances and extort the majority to be generous towards the former…………..what they consistently did was to poison the minds of the minority groups and encourage them to fight to retain the unjust privileges they had received during the era of foreign domination”. How relevant are these lines in the present context!
The K D de Silva Press Commission report could not be implemented as the government that commissioned the report was defeated at election in 1965. Yet the report remains relevant.  A commission constituted on the lines suggested must be authorized to monitor and review editorials, articles and publications, radio broadcasts, television programs that have in the past particularly targeted Buddhism. The commission should be authorized to investigate campaigns hostile to the national interest and instances of such campaigns being funded by foreign and even government institutions and expose them for the interest of the nation.

Search CHR Reports
Date
Date
Category
Keyword