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President taking over SLRC can be construed as an attack on the media freedom: Wijewardene

Ruwan Wijewardene 700 01

Non-Cabinet Minister of Mass Media and State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene has criticized that President Maithripala Sirisena taking over the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation can only be construed as an attack on media freedom.

He made the criticism in a letter addressed to the President. The letter states:

"In the gazette you have said that SLRC was taken under your control to strengthen national security, to promote peace and coexistence among people, to enhance the aesthetical sensibilities of the people and to promote media ethics.

However, you have shown no interest in doing anything to achieve the stated objectives in the last four years. Although you speak of promoting media ethics, you did not have the decency to consult me before taking this step.

Audit reports show that the SLRC makes a loss of Rs. 50 million a month and surveys show that it is only the 6th most popular TV channel. This indicates that the chairperson of the SLRC has failed to come up with programs that could attract the people. When I tried to remove her, you objected on several occasions. Since I took over the Ministry of Mass Media in February this year, I tried to appoint an efficient, talented, and suitable person as Chairman of the Corporation, but the President objected to all the nominees, giving various reasons.

Even during the height of the war, SLRC was not placed under the Defence Ministry. The reasons that were given for the sudden move cannot be justified, as in the past four years no interest was shown by you to use the station to achieve those objectives. 

Your actions can be construed as a move against media freedom in the country.”



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