Under a directive from the Presidential Secretariat, the government has decided to suspend all state advertisements on ‘Sirasa’ media network with immediate effect.
President Rajapaksa made a direct threat to Sirasa/MTV media network a few weeks ago saying that he knows how to ” teach a lesson ” to such media.
This is what President Rajapaksa said:
“It is a mafia, there are no kings in our country, and there are no Maharajas. The Maharajas were in India. Certain media owners want to run the country the way they want. That will not be possible with me. I know how to teach a lesson if they need to be taught. I have given Media Freedom. I have not exerted any influence on the media. If they are misusing, there are legal remedies. Not only them, but even the ones with a national ideology have also published false news. Those who worked against us during the war have reappeared and they are in them”
Issuing a statement Sri Lanka press freedom organisations condemned the president’s thereat.
Now it is reported that advertisements from state banks and the lotteries board have also been suspended.
Sources at the Ministry of Mass Media has told “The Leader” that the decision to suspend government advertisements was due to Sirasa providing wide publicity to Bhagya Abeyratne, a resident of Rakwana who had participated in the ‘Lakshapathi’ programme and revealed the environmental destruction taking place around the Sinharaja forest reserve as well as allocating more airtime for opposition lawmakers in their news broadcasts.
It is reported that Sirasa would stand to lose approximately Rs. 50 million per month due to the suspension of state sponsored advertisements.
Sirasa has faced similar interventions before where they have been subjected to threats from politicians like Mervyn Silva and had their studios torched by a group of unidentified assailants.
the government-owned telecom company Mobitel, which was the main sponsor of one of Sirasa TV’s most popular programmes ‘The Voice’, has also withdrawn its sponsorship after the suspension of state advertisements.
However, it is noteworthy that several private companies have already come forward to sponsor popular programmes such as ‘The Voice’ and ‘Lakshapathi’.
With the inputs from The Leader