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Government attempting to intimidate and control the media

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa issuing a statement yesterday, charged that the government was now trying to intimidate and control the media so as to prevent the people from being informed about what is going on in the country.

We unreservedly condemn the attempt to stifle the media and to destroy the last vestiges of democracy in this country. “While the people’s attention remains focused on the Budget and on Constitutional reform, the government has launched repression against the media.

The Secretary to the Media Ministry had written to Derana TV last Friday to explain the alleged distortion of a speech made by the President in one of their news bulletins before “further action” was taken against the news channel.

Earlier, on October 25, the same official had written to Derana TV informing them that an inquiry was being conducted into the matter.

The speech referred to was the one made by the President on October 12, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, where he had said among other things that the CID, FCID and the Bribery Commission were working to a political agenda and that he was opposed to the manner in which the former Defence Secretary and three Commanders of the Navy were taken to Courts.

The very next day on October 26, Derana TV had replied to the Media Ministry that in any TV news bulletin anywhere in the world, only a one or two minute segment of a a speech lasting 30 or 45 minutes would be broadcast. They had also pointed out that there was no difference between the segment of the speech they had broadcast and the content of a statement issued by the Presidential Media Division the same day. Despite this response, the Media Ministry Secretary had once again, called for an explanation from Derana TV.

The Media Ministry Secretary had also issued a letter revoking the broadcasting license of the CSN Channel. Some time ago, a website critical of the government called ‘Lanka News Web Today’ was blocked by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.