The draft act to establish a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission in Sri Lanka has been made public by the Ministry of Mass Media.
According to the draft Act the commission will comprise of Secretary to the Ministry of Mass media, Director General of the Telecommunication and three members appointed by the president with the approval of the Constitutional Council.
There is no mention of broadcasting entities owned the state and political controlled by the government. Sri Lanka state owned broadcasting entities are run like private institutions without any public services media guide lines.
According to the draft every person or an entity provides a broadcasting service shall register with the commission within period of three months from the date of the commencement of the Act.
The procedure to be followed in registration of a broadcasting service shall be as prescribed by regulations. Regulations will be made by the minister with concurrence of the commission.
The major issue will be the time frame of the license.
According to the draft ” Every person or any broadcasting entity which provides broadcasting service shall obtain an annual license under this act.”
License can be annulled on number of reasons including national security.
The commission will monitor and regulate electronic broadcasting institutions.
It will issue media guide lines for spiritual development of the people.
It will take steps to ensure broadcasting services carry on without any detriment to national security, national economy and public order.
None of these terms have been defined by the act so they can be used to censor or ban broadcasting critical debates, public protests and so on.
Read the draft act as a PDF: Broadcasting Regulatory Act (draft) Ministry of Media 30 May 2023
Above image: Original cartoon adopted.