SLBC news director assaulted by chairman's security guards

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 October 2005, 18:05 GMT]
The Free Media Movement (FMM) on Thursday condemned the physical assault on Mr. Raja Katugampola, news director of the state-controlled Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), by the SLBC chairman's private security guards. The assault took place Wednesday in the chairman's office. Mr. Katugampola was later admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo.

Full text of the press release issued by the Free Media Movement follows:

The Free Media Movement (FMM) condemns the physical assault on Mr. Raja Katugampola, news director of the state-controlled Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), by the SLBC chairman's private security guards. The assault took place on 26 October 2005 in the chairman's office. Mr. Katugampola was later admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo.

FMM insists that the government and police conduct an impartial inquiry and bring those responsible for the assault to book.

FMM understands from reports it has received that the assault took place following a heated debate in which the chairman was insisting on the need for impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs during the presidential election campaign. Under the Election Commissioner's guidelines, state-owned media must be impartial and balanced in its election coverage.

However, FMM does not condone using physical force on whatever grounds. This is a clear violation of basic human rights and democratic norms.

While Mr. Raja Katugampola has the right to hold and express his own political views, FMM insists that, in accordance with ethical practice, all journalists refrain from expressing these views in their news reporting. It is regrettable that under Mr. Katugampola's direction, SLBC's news and current affairs reporting has become completely biased towards the candidate of the governing party, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha.

FMM, while emphasising the need for impartial and balanced coverage of presidential election coverage by all media outlets, would like to reaffirm the need for transforming state media into true public service media.

 

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