- Rambukwella tells Consultative Committee that media must be regulated
- Looking to amend Press Council Act to safeguard citizens
- Some MPs support regulation for television, radio
- Govt. looking to professionalise media
- Tamil MP expresses concerns over safety of media personnel in North and East
The Government said on Saturday a mechanism for the regulation of websites is to be implemented within the next two weeks.
The upcoming move was made public by Keheliya Rambukwella during the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media.
He also said the Press Council Act should be amended in a way that would protect the dignity of the citizens and said the media should be regulated.
Minister of Education Prof. G.L. Peiris said that a new law has been passed in Singapore to control such matters and having studied such, the formulation of a new mechanism should be done. He added that such laws must first be referred to a technical committee.
SLPP MP Suren Raghavan, commenting on the matter, stated that attempts to incite racism through social media should be curbed, while MP Charitha Herath said a proper mechanism should be formulated to regulate television and radio broadcasts as well.
SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara said that what was needed is to reactivate the self-regulatory system for media institutions, which was discussed in 2015 and that the rights of the citizenry should be safeguarded.
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 the purpose of teaching mass media as a subject.
MP Shantha Bandara, drew the attention of the committee towards the standardisation of State channels. Minister Rambukwella pointed out that six chairpersons 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 it will be restored to a profitable status within two years.
The Minister said that providing educational scholarships to journalists, providing media equipment at a concessionary rate along with multiple welfare activities will be implemented for journalists. He further said that the committee will not facilitate taking political decisions and will take common decisions, having consulted all parties.
MP Uddika Premarathna said that the standards of the language used for news should be investigated whilst pointing out that a mechanism should be implemented in that regard.
Mass 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 the way for the education in ethical journalism.
TNA 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 the Ministry and the IGP be informed during such situations with immediate effect.
Discussions were also held regarding resuming the telecast of Parliamentary sessions through Channel Eye of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation.
The Committee also focused on the vacancies in the Postal Department and having the distribution areas redefined. Postmaster General Ranjith Ariyaratne said that a program to renovate sub-post offices is scheduled to be launched next year. Making the substitutes permanent will be taken into consideration in the future, he added.
Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, MPs Isuru Dodangoda, Goonetilleke Rajapaksa, Sagara Kariyawasam, Jayantha Weerasinghe and several Parliamentarians and Government officials were present at the meeting.