Press complaints commission receives 133 complaints

The Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL) received 133 complaints last year. Of the 133 complaints, 84 complaints were valid complaints falling within the purview of the PCCSL mechanism with the Editors publishing a ‘Right of Readers’ for 29 of them, Chief Executive Officer of the PCCSL said in his annual report for 2016.

The report was read out at the Annual General Meeting of the Commission held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute auditorium in Colombo.

CEO Sukumar Rockwood further stated that the Sinhala press which comprises 37.20 per cent of the country’s newspapers attracted a majority of the complaints. He said that the Commission received the fullest co-operation from editors to resolve these complaints amicably and swiftly.

He said that as many as 317 complaints were resolved directly by editors providing a ‘Right of Readers’ to the aggrieved parties.

The report stated that one Sinhala language and two Tamil language newspapers however did not co-operate with the PCCSL, which is a voluntary self-regulatory body of the newspaper industry having the support of the Newspaper Society, Editors’ Guild, Free Media Movement, Working Journalists Association and four other media organizations including a trade union. They are the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance and the South Asian Free Media Association – Sri Lanka Chapter.

The CEO’s report said that the PCCSL’s autonomous Dispute Resolution Council headed by former Secretary General of Parliament Nihal Seneviratne met seven times to inquire into complaints that required their attention.

The PCCSL conducted a total of 27 meetings with publishers, Editors, Desk Heads, sub editors and journalists (reporters). The PCCSL also visited Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Kurunegala, Colombo, Hambantota, Amparai, Jaffna, Gampaha, Galle and Kandy and conducted programmes for provincial correspondents.

The PCCSL also made positive headway by meeting 74 members representing various sections of civil society at 10 meetings. The role of the PCCSL, Rules and Procedures of the PCCSL and the Editors’ Code were explained. These programmes were well attended by principals of schools, teachers, government officials, military and police personnel, local government institutions, academics, doctors and the Directors of Education. They were eager to know more about the PCCSL and how it works.

In addition the PCCSL held a series of programmes with Zonal Directors of Education, Principals, teachers and students of Government Schools imparting practical knowledge of the PCCSL process especially as a socially responsible link between the editors and the public. This was done since the new school curriculum included “Media Studies” in which the PCCSL and the Editors’ Code of Professional Practice are topics at the General Certificate of Education Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations.

The CEO’s report states that the PCCSL celebrated its 13th anniversary on October 15, 2016 of the year under review.

Siri Ranasinghe, Editor of the Lankadeepa, N. M. Ameen, Editor of the Nawamani newspaper and Mohanlal Piyadasa, Chief Sub Editor of the Deshaya were re-elected by the general membership of the PCCSL at the AGM to the Board of Directors of the PCCSL.

The other members of the Board of Directors representing separate media organizations are  Kumar Nadesan (Chairman, nominated by SLPI), Sinha Ratnatunga (Deputy Chairman, nominated by TEGOSL), Manik de Silva (nominated by the SLPI), Nimal Welgama (nominated by the NSSL), Ananda Jayasekera (nominated by FMM) and Duminda Sampath (nominated by SLWJA).

The PCCSL Web Page has received 13,900 hits since it was launched on January 01, 2013. A promotional video about PCCSL is available on the PCCSL’s Facebook page – Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka.

Messrs Ernest and Young, the Auditors of the PCCSL were re-elected Auditors and Messrs Corporate Services (Private) Limited, Secretaries of the PCCSL were re-elected Secretary of the Company.

The PCCSL Secretariat includes Kamal Liyanarachchi, Complaints Officer, Sinhala Print and Promotions Officer. (Colombo Gazette)