Release State media institutions from Govt grip - FMETU | Sunday Observer

Release State media institutions from Govt grip - FMETU

The Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions (FMETU) in a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that it is of the firm belief that the Government should release all State media institutions from its grip as a first step to ensure a free and fair media culture in the country.

“We also believe that the Government could contribute towards making the State media into institutions that stand for the principles of public service journalism,” the letter stated.

The Federation called to ensure that there is an independent, balanced and unbiased media culture. For that purpose, reforming the State media to guarantee media freedom is a sine qua non to sustain democratic and good governance principles, it is mandatory to reform the state media including the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House),

“Our Federation recommends making the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (Lake House) institution a public service journalism institute on the basis of the recommendations of the Sidath Sri Nandalochana Committee appointed by the Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga Government in 1994 or a new committee as per the provisions of the ANCL (Special Provisions) Law No of 1973,” the Federation stated.

It was further suggested to appoint a Public Service Broadcasting and Television Independent Commission to make the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the Independent Television Network into organisations to meet the needs of public service journalism. With regard to the private print and electronic media, the Federation calls for a more stringent adherence to ethical reporting and more robust to regulate the private media.

“Frequencies needed for TV and radio channels are public property and they had been provided to private owners on the basis of their political and personal connections of the Governments in power to set up electronic media institutions. Due to this fact, these electronic media organisations does not regard the fact that the frequencies they use are public property and are in accordance with their own private and political agendas,”. It also calls upon theGovernment to support strengthening the objectives of the Sri Lanka Press Institute and the Sri Lanka Press Complaints Commission and abolish the Sri Lanka Press Council. The Government should take into consideration the guidelines and recommendations of media and civil organisations during the past two decades. The Federation emphasised the need to ensure justice for journalists who had become victims over a one-and-a-half decade of media suppression. Justice should also be meted out for media institutions that had been destroyed. A new mechanism should be introduced to ensure that journalists and media workers could render their duties without fear and threats and prevent the recurrence of unfortunate incidents. The letter signed by the General Secretary of the Federation, Dharmasiri Lankapeli and President Karunaratne Gamage highlights the need fora strong code of conduct for journalists to sustain a strong and independent media culture.

“There is a Code of Ethics for journalists by the Editors’ Guild with the assistance of several media organisations but it is sad to note that not even the creators of that Code of Ethics adhere to its underlying principles in their practice,” they said.

“We propose that the Government should facilitate formulating a strong code of conduct for journalists covering both the print and the electronic media on the basis of international standards and examples. The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions comprises the Lake House Employees’ Union, Broadcasting Journalists’ Union and several national and provincial level Journalists’ Associations and organisations to ensure media freedom and the rights of journalists and media workers.