Court allows Media Ministry to continue news websites registration

Monday, 5 December 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka’s apex court recently granted permission to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information to continue with its process of registering news websites that disseminate news and information on Sri Lanka and its people.

Supreme Court gave this permission when a fundamental right petition filed by an owner of a web site was taken up for leave to proceed.

Sri Lankan Mass Media ministry in the recent past issued a press release requesting all news-casting websites to register with the ministry.

Authorities have observed that several news web sites operating from Sri Lanka carry defamatory and derogatory news giving false information discrediting the image of President of the country and other top officials irrespective of media ethics prepared by the editors’ guild of the country itself.

“We have so far received more than 30 applications for registration inclusive of the site that has filed the FR application,” W.B Ganegala Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information said welcoming the tendency by news web site operators

An official said that most of these web sites though operate from within the country the people have been deprived of their right to reply in case of any need because no one knows from where they operate and their addresses even to send a letter of demand.

“Now the registration process initiated by the media ministry requires the web operators to provide all such information and they (web news site) cope up with authorities to have their sites registered as required,” said an official.

The Supreme Court also ordered the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to conduct a full inquiry into websites operating in Sri Lanka and to inform the court about the particular site that was blocked recently.

The counsel appearing for the blocked website, told the court that the website has been blocked by the government since 5 November and blocking of the website without informing its employees is a violation of basic human rights. The petitioner asked the court to remove the blockades.

The petitioner has cited the TRC, its Director General Anusha Pelpita, Information Director General Prof Ariyarathna Athugala, Mass Media and Information Ministry Secretary W.B. Ganegala, several telecommunication companies and the Attorney General as respondents.

The three-member panel of judges told the Media Ministry to continue with the program of registering the websites and ordered the TRC to file a report in the Supreme Court on 15 December with regard to websites that had filed the petition

The Media Ministry earlier last month requested all news casting websites to maintain accepted ethical standards of mass media and conform to the laws in Sri Lanka. (