Colombo Telegraph

BBC Whoppers, Azzam Ameen Remains Gagged

BBC Sandeshaya, the Sinhala service of BBC, has blatantly lied about their journalistic practice and ethics, Colombo Telegraph is now in a position to expose.

Azzam Ameen | File photo

Colombo Telegraph, in August, this year, revealed that BBC Sinhala has barred Azzam Ameen from conducting political interviews or attending press conferences.

Ameen, who has built a considerable reputation for being a fearless and probing journalist who was also recently adjudged the most popular journalist in social media, was informed by his superiors that he will not be allowed to do political interviews or attend press conferences.

BBC Sinhala Service Editor Sangeeth Kalubowila is a close associate of Dharmasiri Bandara Ekanayake, the Senior Media Director of the President. Both of them worked closely at Capital Maharaja Organization, the parent company of Sirasa, for many years.

Just after  Colombo Telegraph made the revelation, BBC issued a vague and ambiguous statement responding to our story. It said, “BBC News Sinhala is committed to impartial and accurate journalism in Sri Lanka and we will continue to conduct robust interviews with politicians and other newsmakers, which is exactly what our audiences expect.”

Despite this assurance, Ameen has not conducted a single political interview nor has he attended any press conference since we carried our story. The journalist has been sidelined by confining him to non-controversial and non-political stories that are below par by BBC’s international standards.

Meanwhile, BBC Sinhala Service has also hired an individual by the name of Kumudu Jayawardena as Video Journalist, through an opaque recruitment process. Jayawardena is a former colleague of Kalubowila at MTV/Sirasa. Although the service has advertised to recruit another Videographer, another former colleagues of Kalubowila’s, a former MTV/Sirasa employee has boasted with several parties that he had already being recruited for the post.

“What we see right now is an alarming trend,” a media observer told Colombo Telegraph, adding that BBC Sinhala Service was being ‘swallowed up’ by ex-MTV/Sirasa employees.

“There is a political element in this entire process. Sirasa strongly backs President Maithripala Sirisena and often functions as his mouthpiece. It is a widely-known fact that Dharmasiri Bandara Ekanayake has been plated at the President’s Office by MTV/Sirasa owner Raja Mahendran alias Killy Maharaja, a controversial businessman. Ekanayake has exerted pressure on Kalubowila to alter the nature of BBC’s coverage in Sri Lanka. Going a step further on this disastrous path, Kalubowila is currently in the process of hiring ex-MTV/Sirasa employees with questionable and dubious track records, making BBC vulnerable to politically orchestrated propaganda,” he explained.

To read related posts on BBC Sinhala click here

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