Magazine article New Internationalist

Sri Lanka's Press Merry-Go-Around

Magazine article New Internationalist

Sri Lanka's Press Merry-Go-Around

Article excerpt

Sri Lanka has just elected its 13th parliament and people are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the polls were relatively free of violence ('only' five political murders). But the dust never settles. The debate over the country's state-controlled media is still a hot issue. The manipulation of the media here has been in the spotlight ever since last November, when the eventual election winner Chandrika Kumaratunga, then in opposition (though she was President) used her powers to take over the media ministry.

This provoked an unprecedented discussion about political influence and meddling. For as far back as anyone can remember, the state-controlled media have been commandeered by successive governments for their own propaganda purposes. At least two generations have grown up simply taking this for granted. Despite some private ownership the state media's influence remains considerable. There are still lots of people for whom the 'day is not complete' until they have read their Daily News or Sunday Observer. This despite front pages that read like government press releases. …

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