The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI), its constituents and affiliated organizations met with the Minister of Mass Media, Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella on Monday, 15th of March to submit an outline of the proposal for a single Authority to monitor the Media, including print, radio, television and digital based on self-regulatory principles that will ensure freedom of expression and social responsibility.
The delegation comprised representatives of the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka (NSSL), The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL), Free Media Movement (FMM), Tamil Media Alliance (TMA), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Union (FMETU), South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) and the SLPI.
It is proposed that this new mechanism will be repealing the Press Council Act No 5 of 1973 and bring in relevant amendments to the relevant Acts such as the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Act, No 37 of 1966, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Act, No 6 of 1982, the Sri Lanka Telecommunication Act, No 25 of 1991 and the Newspaper Ordinance of Sri Lanka, No 5 of 1839.
The proposed board of the Authority will comprise of media representative from the industry, state representation of media and subject matter experts from Finance, Law, ICT and New Media to ensure that today’s complex media environment is regulated and managed with the relevant expertise. The Authority, will ensure adherence of media to a Code of Conduct, hold inquiries on complaints received and of its own observation, issue broadcasting and content licences, registration of media, impose relevant fees, impose licence term, ensure conformity to content licenses impose fines and penalties based on inquiry.
The inquiries based on complaints or on observations of the Authority will be handled through a conciliation, mediation and arbitration process. The Arbitration process will be in accordance with the Arbitration Act No. 11 of 1995 in particular Part V on conduct of arbitration proceedings. Any directives from these processes by the Authority could be appealed in the court of appeal.
The Minister said that he will include SLPI and all stakeholders who have engaged in this process to arrive at an outcome suitable to media and public.