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Opposition unanimously rejects new media law

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Opposition political parties have unanimously decided to oppose the proposal to introduce legislation to establish a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission in the country

The executive council of the opposition led by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya made a special statement unanimously to oppose and defeat the Broadcasting Authority Act to be brought by the current government with the aim of destroying the remaining part of the country’s democracy and to take the maximum possible measures to defeat it inside and outside the parliament and in the courts, said Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said on Monday (5).

The special opposition subcommittee appointed to study the discuss the proposed  Broadcasting Regulatory Commission legislation met on Monday (5).

The special opposition subcommittee led by Professor Charitha Herath also includes Imthiaz Bakeer Marker, Gayantha Karunathilake, Dr. Harsha De Silva and Eran Wickramaratne.

Minister of Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that the proposed Broadcasting Regulatory Commission legislation that grants statutory power to imprison journalists, impose fines on them, and to even revoke the licenses issued to broadcasters, will be discussed with the media institutions on the 7th of June 2023.

The drafting of the legislation establishing a ‘Broadcast Authority’ was carried out by a cabinet appointed subcommittee, led by Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

What is the new piece of legislation that Sri Lanka is trying to introduce for the media?

According to the document prepared by the Cabinet-appointed Subcommittee led by Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, something very serious is being prepared with regard to the media.

It proposes for the establishment of a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission consisting of five members, the commission will appoint its own investigating committee.

If reports detriment to national security, national economy, and public order, are published by broadcasters, the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission will be able to revoke and temporarily suspend the license of the broadcaster.

In addition, the Investigating Committee of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission will have the power to obtain a court order and raid media institutions.

If the proposed legislation is passed in its original form, a complaint would not even be necessary to launch an investigation on a media institution.

Broadcasting Regulatory Commission:

The Broadcasting Regulatory Commission is to be introduced via a new piece of legislation.

The cabinet appointed subcommittee, led by Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe completed the drafting of the legislation establishing a ‘Broadcast Authority’ for the creation of a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission.

This document contains multiple sections on electronic media, that need to be taken seriously.

It proposes for the establishment of a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission consisting of five members.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Media, and the Director General of Telecommunication will serve as ex-officio members.

The other three members will be appointed to the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission by the President.

According to this document, the scope of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission covers serious areas concerning the process of electronic media.

The objective of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission shall be to ensure to carry on the broadcasting services without any detriment to national security, national economy, and public order.

In addition, the objective of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission is also to ensure that broadcasting services shall provide people true and accurate information as guaranteed by the constitution.

Further, the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission shall issue annual licenses for broadcasting services.

In addition, another objective of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission is to issue guidelines in respect of broadcasting to enhance the spiritual development and mental health of the people while safeguarding the social and cultural values and entertainment of the people.

The Broadcasting Regulatory Commission will also be empowered to formulate codes of conduct to be followed by the broadcasting entities or persons in consultation with the licenses broadcasters.

Investigating Committee:

The new legal framework proposed by the cabinet appointed subcommittee led by Dr. Rajapakshe proposes to appoint an investigation committee to investigate complaints and made recommendations.

The three-member committee shall be headed by the Director General of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission, and the others two members will be those with experience in the field of law or mass media.

According to the latest document, the committee may conduct an investigation, upon its own initiative or upon the request by any interested person.

This committee may conduct an investigation, upon its own initiative or upon the request by any interested person, on any matter in which a license holder of any broadcasting service is involved in what may lead to a threat to national security, national economy, or may create any conflict among races and religions.

A serious section in this document is that for the purpose of an investigation the committee may, by notice in writing require any person or entity to produce to the committee any specified document, specified written or oral information which the committee considers relates to any matter relevant to the investigations.

It proposes that the Committee shall have the power to enter, inspect, and search the premises where the broadcasting service is being carried out with any entry warrant issued by a magistrate, and take copies of or seize and detain any relevant records or documents of such broadcasting entity.

Upon the recommendations of the committee, the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission may cancel, suspend or impose a fine to the license issued to the broadcasting entity.

In addition to the violation of any clause of the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission Act, the Commission can also take a decision on the license issued to a broadcasting entity, if it had broadcasted anything that may create a threat to national security, economy, or conflict among races or religions.

It notes that any person who fails to comply with any direction or recommendation issued to by the commission or refuses to cooperate, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction after a summary trial before a Magistrate be liable to a fine or imprisonment, or both.

Any person or entity that engaged in broadcasting services aggrieved by a decision of the commission may appeal against such a decision at the Court of Appeal.

What is most interesting is that the document does not give a definition to the terms of ‘Broadcasting’, ‘Broadcasting Service Provider’, ‘License’, and ‘Licensee’.

(newsfirst.lk)

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Shooting incident ‘targeting’ former MP Uddika was self-orchestrated : Police

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Sri Lanka Police says it has been uncovered that the incident where several gunshots had been fired at the vehicle belonging to former Anuradhapura District parliamentarian Uddika Premaratne, had been orchestrated by the actor-turned-politician himself with the assistance of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in the area.

Speaking during a press conference held in Colombo today (13), the Police Media Spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa said that the suspects connected to the incident have been identified so far following investigations carried out by the CID.

On September 17, 2023, a group of unidentified gunmen had opened fire at Premaratne’s car soon after he returned to his residence in Anuradhapura at around 10:35 p.m. The parliamentarian had managed to escape unharmed.

The perpetrators, who had arrived in a car, were said to have targeted the parliamentarian who was walking towards the house after parking his vehicle. The left rear door glass of Premaratne’s car was damaged in the shooting incident for which the gunmen were believed to have used a pistol.

Anuradhapura police initiated investigations soon after the incident was reported and Special Task Force (STF) personnel were deployed to beef up the security near the MP’s house. Later, investigations into the matter were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

However, the former MP claimed that the existing system within the country was the reason behind the recent shooting incident targeting him.

Speaking in Parliament in this regard, MP Premaratne said that while he believed the system was the cause behind the recent shooting outside his residence, it is also the reason why the country is in the state it is today.

Later on 27 February 2024, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP resigned as a Member of Parliament, following which S.C. Muthukumarana of SLPP was appointed to fill the vacant MP seat.

However, Premaratne was later reported to have flown to Canada, seeking political asylum, which he refuted, and claimed that he was expecting a work visa in Canada.

In 2020, the popular actor was announced as a candidate for the 2020 parliamentary election from the Anuradhapura District as a member of the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance, a political alliance led by the SLPP formed in 2019. 

He obtained 133,550 votes and won a seat in the 16th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

(adaderana.lk)

(This story, originally published by adaderana.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Apple is the world’s first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

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Kantar BrandZ’s Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 has named Apple as the world’s first trillion-dollar brand, holding onto pole position for the third consecutive year. 

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon join Apple atop the rankings, with McDonald’s rounding up the top 5.

Demonstrating how effective AI has become for driving brand value, NVIDIA has lept 18 places to crack the top 10 for the first time, holding sixth position with a 178% year-on-year brand value increase. 

Facebook rejoined the Top 10 after a one-year absence, while Oracle joined the Top 10 for the first time. 

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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