20 October, 2017

Editors To Be Held Liable For Advertisements Under Proposed Media Regulatory Law

The proposed Media Regulatory draft law pushed by the Information Department provides in clause 12 of the draft, that “the editor-in-chief, as designated by news media outlets, shall be accountable for all the content disseminated by the news media outlet, including advertisements,” Colombo Telegraph learns.

Media Minsiter Mangala Samaraweera

The draft also states that ‘the editor-in-chief shall be accountable to the Independent News Media Council for all the content included in the news media outlet regardless of whether or not any breach of any Code of Practice adopted by the Independent News Media Council is directly attributable to the editor-in-chief.

Asked to comment, an editor stated that a lot of discretion is given to the News Media Council established under this draft and that it can be used as a political tool by the Government. Holding editors liable for even advertisements is contrary to normal practice, he added.

Earlier, Colombo Telegraph had exposed the fact that the draft had contained a clause that a journalist could be forced to disclose sources on a judicial order. Following criticism, a revised clause now reads that “No court may require a journalist to disclose the identity of a confidential source who has provided information to that journalist, nor may any adverse inferences be drawn against a journalist for any refusal to disclose a confidential source.”

Colombo Telegraph had highlighted this clause, pointing to the problems that may arise if a court is given the power by law to order a journalist to give up his/her sources. This was particularly so as the Supreme Court had ruled that source protection is part of the right to information. These questions were raised in the context of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI), an umbrella organization of editors and media activists remaining quiet while the proposed media draft regulatory law was being promoted by the Director General, Information Department Ranga Kalansooriya and IMS country programme manager Nalaka Gunewardene without formal involvement of the Ministry of Media.

A doubtful group calling itself the National Secretariat for Media Reform (NSMR) funded by an international non-governmental organization, International Media Support (IMS) had been given the task. Its website (nsmrlk.org/) stated that the SLPI had also collaborated with it.

The NSMR website went off line shortly after the Colombo Telegraph exposure when it was pointed that some of their members had dubious qualifications while others were not recognized members of either the legal or media professions. NSMR has removed the relevant information from its website. Even at this point, the website does not disclose details of its members under ‘About us.’

Despite the revision on the forced disclosure of sources which was prompted by the Colombo Telegraph exposure while the SLPI remained asleep, the draft is still concerning. DG, Information Kalansooriya has tried to justify the proposed News Media Council to be established by this draft to regulate the print and broadcast media by saying that this will be similar to the RTI Commission set up under the internationally hailed RTI Act, No 12 of 2016. But media activists speaking to Colombo Telegraph reiterated that this explanation is not correct as the RTI law was widely accepted with the RTI Commission members of high standing while this is a problematic draft and there is no guarantee as who will be appointed to this Council.         

The SLPI has yet not activated itself on the matter apart from its CEO Kumar Lopez issuing a short press statement recently saying that the majority of its members agreed on the need for self-regulation. A senior independent news editor told Colombo Telegraph that the SLPI has lost public credibility because of lack of direction and focus. “They only have trainings, sometimes one-off public lectures attended by the same crowd. It is not seen as a critical meeting place for ideas and discussions by journalists. The CEO is someone whom they got from the private sector as no one else came forward and he only thinks of profits. He runs this way and that way helplessly whenever he is told to,” he said.

“The SLPI must put forward a counter response to this draft of the Information Department and look at it point by point, which it has not done up to now. It did not even raise the problem of sources in the earlier version of this draft which is now withdrawn. Issuing ‘pana nethi’ (weak) statements is not going to help,” he added.

The draft also provides that no liability, civil or criminal, shall attach to the Council, its members or any person employed by the Council for anything which in good faith is done or purported to be done in the performance or exercise of any function or power imposed on or assigned to the Council, its members or its staff. 

“Concerns have arisen as to whether this is an attempt by certain international forces sympathetic to the ‘yahapalanaya’ Government to throttle journalists who are now critical of the Government. The newly appointed Media minister should think about it. He should make a public statement regarding this badly drafted Bill,” a media rights activist told Colombo Telegraph. (Chamindri Karannagoda)

Related Posts:

Shadowy Hands In Effort To Control Sri Lankan Media – Is The Sri Lanka Press Institute Asleep? 

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Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    Editors have far less control over advertisements than managers.
    Advertisements are about money for the paper, and even ethical considerations raised by editors are often brushed aside by the advertisements section.
    I think that the publisher should be held responsible for all material that do not come under the purview of the editorial department.

    • 1
      0

      This is simply great.

      All those sorcery and astro men would get marginalized by this law if this would be rigorously effective.

      But wait and see, if this would be powerful enough.

      Those men that spread their predictions about the life have made the nation so sick sofar. Over 90% are after Astro regardless of their degree provable knoweldge.
      Each and every vehicle would hang somthing given by any kattadiyas.
      Srilanka has turned out to be more india of ancient days by today.
      These men should be marginalized if this nation to be taken a ride to progress.

      • 1
        1

        Aunty SJ,
        Is your claim applicable to your political master Ranil Wicks who pays regular visits to various Indian kovils, temples etc., to seek divine intervention?

    • 0
      0

      Should the Politicians be held responsible for the piles of stinking garbage they emit from their mouth every day?

  • 0
    0

    Are these editors paralysed? Who is this Lopez? A journo? Never heard of him.

  • 6
    3

    This same Avamangala had eight media outlets to disseminate lies against Mahinda Rajapakse. That is how they defeated MR. Now, they want to cover up Horapalanaya thefts as the Central Bank robbery is now covered up.

  • 4
    3

    In an ad that is broadcasting in SLBC Welanda Sewaya related to income tax, Awamangala is lamenting that Sri Lanka is collecting only about 20% from direct taxation while other countries in Asia have more than 50%. I was wondering what is the point in telling this to the public. The important question is whose money they are using to put these ads. After Awamangala became the Media Minister, mud-slinging campaign has started using SLBC. At the moment targets are Wimal and Dinesh. In one ad they ask ‘Did they launch Supremesat with Tamil Diaspora money’. Good Luck Awamangala with your mud-slinging campaign.

  • 1
    1

    So, editor in chief is publishing not what the medium owner wants. Editor is completely free of the influence of the media owners. that is what govt wants to say and save the rich and prosecute the poor.

  • 1
    0

    This is all about subjugating the media in order to publish only the govt propaganda, nothing about corruptions by politicians and to prepare for the election. So, CT will be a mouth piece of the govt and the civil society.

  • 1
    0

    Who puts paid ads in News Papers, except Penthouse Builders, Maliban Biscuits, and Bajaj…….Are they breaking the Law?…. Tinder doesn’t advertise for Boys … even that wouldn’t be an issue for the new Media Minister………….My Ellders just reminded me of Friday Forum who often runs full page ads…….But that wouldn’t be an issue either………… Would it?……..

  • 0
    0

    Opps! Daily Crap also know as the Daily Mirror might have to close down.

    What happens to forums where posts are screened before publishing. Here the host has volunteered therefore could be held accountable.

  • 3
    0

    The government must start with collecting the laptops given away to the journalists by MR King and charge interest on the loan to journalists for buying properties and cars. Journalism is a noble profession but in Sri Lanka several of them auction themselves to corrupt politicians and distort the facts in return for the perks. However the editor in charge cannot be held responsible for adverts. As made clear in the report of presidential commission appointed by Chndrika B-K the prejudicial journalists who caused violence can be checked and made accountable with laws passed to make discrimination of gender, colour, religion and language a criminal offence as in many developed countries.

  • 1
    0

    This man’s mission is to make CBK’ s son the next leader of SL.

    • 1
      0

      John:
      I am against Sri Lankan politicians turning Sri Lanka Politics into a family business. Having said that isn’t CBK’s son better educated and mannered than the sons of MR? No one seems to have a problem with that so why should this be a issue?

      • 0
        0

        Education alone doesn’t make you a better politician. You can employ educated people as advisers. But politicians must have a likable and pleasant personality.

        Is CBK better mannered? Have you listened to her hateful and unpleasant speeches lately? She is a someone who indicates left and turns right, or indicates right then turns left. READ “Chaura Rajina” for more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • 0
        0

        Uncle Burt, what is your yardstick to measure to be called “mannered”? Studying in UK, being coltish or just being a non-Rajapakshe? Or simply be an anti Sinhala Buddhist? I guess, the last!

  • 0
    0

    rajapakshes used direct methods like bumping off the media.mangal using indirect methods here.

  • 0
    0

    What a “change” in opinions on Media Freedom in ten years!
    During the tenure of (Rtd) Maj Gen GA Chandrasiri as Governor NP, Tamil journalists were white vanned, tortured, shot dead of disappeared. Tamil newspaper Editors were pulped with iron bars to spend time in IC units. The Uthayan press , distribution vehicles set on fire. The national media simply accepted the GA Chandrasiri sagacious explanation “Internal fights”!
    Now national media is hit with feather and occasionally with a pillow. Why the furore?
    Please note the absence of the language/religion divide. Significant?

  • 0
    0

    Remember how the then, Senior minister Dr Merwyn Silva controlled the media ? A private TV station was vandalised because it did not given prime coverage to a bridge opening!
    The Lankan media is not under censorship now but they are under self censorship. It is reasonable to expect the media to pay attention to every aspect including advertisements

  • 0
    0

    avaMAngala Samaraweera is one of the most crooked and most dishonest politician. I don’t know this Gay–queen is accepted by Matara voters. he is always planning a country for Gays and lesbians.

  • 0
    0

    First hold politicians accountable for their corruption as they are the biggest crooks. Then let’s talk about others.

  • 0
    0

    Wish this can be extended to Parties being held liable for Promises Made Before Elections

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