(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella attending the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media on Saturday had stated that a proper mechanism for the regulation of local websites is needed and will be implemented within the next two weeks.
MP Dr. Suren Raghavan commenting on the matter stated that attempts to incite racism through social media should be curbed. Adding to his remarks, Education Minister Prof. G.L Peiris said that a new law has been passed in Singapore to control such matters and having studied such laws, the formulation of a new mechanism should be made.
Minister Rambukwella stressed that the Press Council Act should be amended in a way that would protect the dignity of the citizens. He also said that the rights of all citizens should be protected by the media.
The Minister also pointed out that defamation which is unjust should have some control and that media regulation is required.
Speaking at the event, MP Prof. Charitha Herath, said that having discussed the amendments to the Press Council Act at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media would make its progress more convenient. He also said that a proper mechanism should be formulated to regulate television and radio broadcasts as well.
Minister of Education Prof. G. L. Peiris stated that it is convenient to refer the relevant amendments to the legal Drafting Committee after having it referred by the Ministerial Consultative Committee.
Minister Prof. Peiris highlighted the importance of referring a Bill to a Technical Committee.
SJB Parliamentarian Manusha Nanayakkara emphasized the need to reactivate the self-regulatory system for media institutions, which was discussed in 2015. He further emphasized that the damage done to civilians by the media was immense.
Discussions were also held regarding resuming the telecast of Parliamentary sessions through Channel Eye of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC). The Committee also focused on the recognition of media persons as professionals, the establishment of a minimum wage scheme for journalists, allocation of graduates in Mass Communication to related vacancies, and the appointment of teachers to schools for teaching Mass Media as a subject.
Parliamentarian Shantha Bandara drew the attention of the Committee towards the standardization of State-owned channels. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella pointed out that six chairmen’s have been appointed to the Independent Television Network (ITN) during the last four years and by 2014 the channel was number one according to survey reports.
In addition, the Minister stated that State media institutions were running at a loss during the previous regime and that they will be restored to profitability within two years.
The Minister said that providing educational scholarships to journalists and media equipment at a concessionary rate along with multiple welfare activities will be implemented. He further said that the committee will not facilitate political decisions and will take common decisions having consulted all parties.
Parliamentarian Uddika Premarathna said that the standards of the language used for news should belooked into whilst pointing out that a mechanism should be implemented in that regard.
Media Ministry Secretary Jagath P. Wijeweera informed the Committee that an insurance scheme for journalists is scheduled to be introduced along with the establishment of a journalism college in the coming year paving way for education in ethical journalism.
MP Selvarajah Kajendran, highlighting threats faced by journalists in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, requested the Chairperson to intervene in controlling such situations.
The minister directed that the Ministry and the IGP should be informed of such situations with immediate effect.