Image from the safejournalists.ne.
Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara has sent a letter ordering all state institutions including state banks and insurance companies to immediately suspend their ongoing advertising and marketing campaigns.
In his letter, Jayasundara says that the president has directed him to issue this directive. The derective has been sent to relevant institutions on the 18th of this month.
This will be a deadly blow to corona hit media industry in Sri Lanka, observes say.
Commenting on the directive Asia Mirror says that “it is still not clear whether the move is aimed at cutting down expenses in the state sector or an attempt to regulate government in advertising in line with the recent Cabinet decision to allocate 25% of advertising budgets of state-owned entities to state media institutions.”
“Allocating 25% of government advertising budgets to state-owned media stations is part of the government’s strategy to make the companies less reliant on the Treasury” it further says.
Opposition parliamentarian Dr Harsha de Silva questions the motive of the directive thus:
Pres @GotabayaR has ordered all gov n SOE advertising be stopped immediately. Upon Treasury approval some may be approved on a case by case basis f 2021. T question is, is this t plan to direct billions of advertising money to select friendly media institutions? Muzzling t media. pic.twitter.com/1PFoQ0aqMC
— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) November 25, 2020
In September this year, Sri Lanka’s government decided to allocate 25 percent of their advertising and promotional budgets in state media to cover their losses, reported EconomyNext.
The cabinet approved a proposal by the Media Minister to direct government and semi-government agencies to advertise in state media so that separate funds are not taken from the budget.
State-controlled media has incurred huge losses in recent times.
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation lost 501 million rupees in 2019 and 159 million rupees up to April 2020, according to finance ministry data.
Independent Television Network Ltd lost 627 million rupees in 2019 and 587 million rupees up to April 2020.
Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation lost 105 million rupees in 2019 and 28 million rupees up to April 2020.
on 23rd Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the media that a new regulatory framework aiming to curb online falsehood would be introduced in two weeks. According to the state-owned Daily News, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris had pointed out that Singapore too adopted such laws last year to curb online-based false news.