By Colombo Telegraph –
The BBC World Service has still not issued the press release which has already drafted regarding the misconduct of its journalists in the Sinhala section, a source close to the drafting process told Colombo Telegraph.
The issue generated heated debate within the organisation the source further said.
Two of its journalists, BBC World Service producer Chandana Keerthi Bandara and the Colombo Reporter Elmo Fernando, applied Rs. 1,200,000/-each by way of interest free loans from the state banks to purchase cars or vans, where the interest will be paid by the Treasury using tax payer money. This is part of a Government scheme but the move has been criticised by media rights organisations and the opposition as an attempt to purchase loyalty.
Meanwhile BBC Sinhala section head Priyath Liyanage last week wrote to the The Nation Editor Malinda Seneviratne, stating that ‘the BBC wishes to make clear that no BBC employee will be accepting car loan from the Sri Lankan government, now or in the future’. Seneviratne, in response, agreed to publish the clarification provided that Liyanage respond to a question of his own: ‘Has anyone in the BBC applied for such a loan?’ Liyanage responded that in fact some had, indicating inter alia that the original clarification was incomplete and was tantamount to suppression of vital information pertaining to the issue. The Nation carried the full correspondence (see below) under the title ‘Factoring integrity into media freedom’.
Colombo Telegraph also sent an email to BBC World Service Journalist Chandana Keerthi Bandara who has applied the loan before we published our first story. We asked him; why did he apply the loan and didn’t he think the loan is a bribe, but so far, he has not responded.
The Nation article;
Factoring integrity into media freedom
Mr. Priyath Liyanage, Sinhala Service Editor, BBC World Service, wrote to us regarding the article published on December 2, 2012, with the above title. We wrote back to Mr. Liyanage seeking clarification and he responded with an amended ‘Letter to the Editor’. We reproduce below the correspondence on the subject so that the readers are fully informed.
To the Editor, the Nation.
Regarding the piece by Malinda Seneviratne on Sunday, 02 December, the BBC wishes to make clear that no BBC employee will be accepting car loan from the Sri Lankan government, now or in the future.
Dear Mr. Liyanage,
We will carry this clarification, provided you can tell us whether or not any BBC employee has applied for a car loan as per the scheme put in place by the Government, and whether or not any BBC employee accepted free laptops, again according to another Government scheme.
Editor, The Nation
To the Editor, the Nation.
Regarding the piece by Malinda Seneviratne on Sunday, 02 December, the BBC wishes to make clear that no BBC employee will be accepting car loan from the Sri Lankan government, now or in the future. Two BBC employees applied for loans under the scheme but they will not be accepting them [emphasis ours] . No BBC employee has accepted any laptops presented by the government.