High risk of political control in Sri Lankan media, study finds

ECONOMYNEXT –Print media owners in Sri Lanka have the most political affiliations, the Media Ownership Monitor, a database of mass media owners, has revealed.

Nine out of 12, or 75 percent of print media owners, have direct or indirect political affiliations, according to the monitor, a joint project between Verité Research, a Sri Lankan think tank, and Reporters without Borders, an NGO based in France.

This number was 55 percent for radio and online, and 50 percent for television, said the report, developed to provide transparency in media ownership.

Print media owners with political affiliations have 79.4 percent readership share.

In television, these owners had 54.8 percent viewership share and in radio 45.6 percent listenership.

Regardless, the MOM points out that radio and television have higher risk of political control than print, because of the closeness of political affiliates to the executives and the lack of transparency in licence distribution.

There is no law in Sri Lanka prohibiting members of parliament or their family from owning media organisations.

Of the main political names linked to media is Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is the nephew of Ranjit Wijewardene, the Chairperson of Wijeya Newspapers, and the brother of Shan Wickremeshinghe, the Chairperson of TNL.

Minister of Science Sarath Amunugama’s daughter, Varuni Amunugama is a majority shareholder of Power House, which owns the Derana television station.

Former MP Duminda Silva’s family owns Asia Broadcasting Corporation and his brother Rayynor Silva is the Chairperson.

The complete list of political affiliations can be found on the MOM Sri Lanka website.

(COLOMBO, October 29, 2018)
 

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