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The New Broadcasting Station Regulations
A statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 081106-1
November 6, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The recently gazetted Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations and the intended Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Act are very worrying and must awaken all democratic minded Sri Lankans.

While the stated intention of these regulations is to ensure national harmony and security they also give the Media Minister wide ranging powers to control the right of the people to information and to different opinions.

There is a strong point of view that these regulations require the prior approval of Parliament and are incompatible with a Supreme Court ruling of the nineties.

The clause that enables Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation channels to be imposed on satellite or cable TV stations is a serious violation of the right of discretion of these operators and the right of selection of viewers. If TV station operators undermine national security or provoke national disharmony, they must be dealt with case by case without depriving the people of their right to information.

The thrust of these regulations implies a fear that the people will hear and know the truth and this is not a healthy sign. The freedom with responsibility given to the media is in the final analysis an indication of the dignity and respect that a Government has for its people. The integrity of the whole nation will be at stake if these regulations are implemented.

Consequently I call upon the President and the Media Minister to put this decision on hold, initiate a dialogue with the media and private TV station operators, seek the prior approval of Parliament and ensure compatibility with the Supreme Court ruling. Any steps taken thereafter to ensure National harmony and security will be welcome; but they must also ensure the freedom of the private media and the right of people to information.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
5 November 2008