Sri Lanka:Censorship on the Broadcast of Cricket Matches

Press release/ 06 July 2011

Sri Lanka: Censorship on  the  Broadcast of Cricket Matches

It was announced recently that the Cabinet has taken a decision  to permit only  the State controlled media to broadcast  the international cricket matches in which the  Sri Lanka cricket team would  be participating.  The NfR views this   move as an indirect  censorship  imposed on the electronic media in Sri Lanka.   This means that there will  no longer  be  any open bidding for sports broadcasting rights in Sri Lanka.

Cricket is the most popular sport in the country and attracts a larger audience to watch live broadcasts of matches played by the Sri Lanka team than to any other sport.   The  decision to provide exclusive rights on  broadcasting  cricket matches to state controlled broadcasting channels is another blow to media freedom.  It is well know that  the electronic mediate of the  State   is the most bias media in the country and is a vehicle for  carrying the government’s  political propaganda as news and views.   This decision to create a State monopoly in cricket broadcasting deprives competitive edge for private broadcasters and  bolsters  political control of sports news in the country.

The most absurd part of  this Cabinet decision is that it  allows sports channels also the right to broadcast  international cricket matches.  There is only one sports channel in the country  which is controlled by one of the President’s sons, Yoshitha Rajapakse.  It is called  the Carlton Sports Network , named after  the President’s family  residence in the South which has this name.  This TV Channel  was launched in March 2011 after obtaining a TV channel belonging  to a  State controlled broadcaster.  This is another step towards  the family rule  of the  the country by the  Rajapakse clan.   .

NfR expresses its concern  over  this  undemocratic decision and urges  the government to reverse this decision.

Issued by
Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

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