Rupavahini crisis worsens as it grows two heads

The Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, the country’s Premier State Media organisation lurched towards another crisis today as Media Minister Ruwan Wijewardene appointed a new Chairman to the organisation but the incumbent refused to quit.

In a letter dated July 18 Wijewardene appointed Sanjeeva Wijegunewardene, a Working Director at the Corporation as its new head.

However, the current Chairperson Inoka Sathyangani Keerthirathne has not been officially removed although the government claims a letter was sent to her requesting her resignation.

In that letter, Wijewardene listed a number of the problems facing SLRC including financial issues as well as a lack of a roadmap towards recovery.

The major issue is that officials seem unclear who has the power to make these appointments.

A senior official at the Presidential Secretariat told RepublicNext that it was President Maithripala Sirisena’s prerogative to appoint Chairmen to State Media organisations and Wijewardene did not have such powers.

A similarly ranked Consultant at Temple Trees, however, said that SLRC is a Gazetted subject under the Media Ministry and administratively it would appear that Wijewardene has the authority to appoint the chairman.

Keerthirathne was first appointed to the post by Mangala Samaraweera when he was Media Minister.

The crisis in leadership comes as the storied institution is facing its worst-ever crisis, both financially and administratively.

Last month for the first time in 37 years staff salaries were not paid on time and financials are in dire straits this month as well, informed sources said.

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Ratings are down and the corporation is grossly overstaffed.

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