Media in Sri Lanka

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Presentation at SAFMA regional conference, June 2006

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Media in Sri Lanka

  1. 1. Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka Is there a role for media in peacebuilding?
  2. 2. History of broadcasting in Sri Lanka <ul><li>Sri Lanka has the oldest radio station in Asia - Radio Ceylon. </li></ul><ul><li>Experimental broadcasting was started in Ceylon by the Telegraph Department in 1923 - three years after the inauguration of broadcasting in Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>1925 broadcasting began </li></ul>
  3. 3. TV today – Is more choice is less choice?
  4. 4. Radio today (mostly with incomprehensible DJ’s)
  5. 5. Statistics
  6. 6. Modes of Information in Sri Lanka
  7. 7. The conflict
  8. 8. “ It is bad today” “ My god, not again”
  9. 9. Overview of conflict <ul><li>65,000 dead (+ around 31,000 from tsunami) </li></ul><ul><li>Over 400,000 IDPs </li></ul><ul><li>Devastated the economy, livelihoods </li></ul><ul><li>Traumatised societies (Tamil, Muslim, Sinhala) </li></ul><ul><li>60+ dead, 70+ wounded in the morning / retaliatory attacks / unconfirmed reports of ethnic riots in the N&E </li></ul>
  10. 10. Biased & Divided Mono-lingual State vs. Private
  11. 12. Media roles in Conflict Transformation
  12. 13. Framing and defining the conflict Encouraging a balance of power Identifying the interests underlying the issues Channel of communication between parties Confidence-building Counteracting misperceptions Face saving and consensus-building Analyzing the conflict Media Roles in Peacebuilding
  13. 14. Process Events
  14. 15. <ul><li>Can the media serve peace as well as truth? </li></ul><ul><li>Selective amnesia of media in Sri Lanka – recent bans only apply to GoSL or LTTE, depending on which language media one reads </li></ul><ul><li>Is it the function of the media to do propaganda for peace? </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of expression vs. nationalism & patriotism </li></ul><ul><li>A safe silence vs. investigative journalism </li></ul>
  15. 16. Getting the balance right <ul><li>There is rarely less than two points of view on any topic - diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Impartial, accurate, responsible journalism </li></ul>
  16. 17. Four Ideas
  17. 19. Public Service Broadcasting Public service broadcasting is based on the principles of universality of service, diversity of programming, provision for minority audiences including the disadvantaged, sustaining an informed electorate, and cultural and educational enrichment. See www.voicesofpeace.lk
  18. 20. <ul><li>Women need to be more visible at the higher decision-making levels of the news organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness-raising on gender - especially editorial and management levels </li></ul><ul><li>Give women agency </li></ul><ul><li>Represent women’s agency </li></ul>Engender media
  19. 21. New Media / Citizens Media “ As media proliferate and as the world becomes the more volatile and unpredictable, the greater becomes the need to organise citizens’ media associations and to promote community based media which alone can serve as balancing factors to check the unhealthy dominance of State-media and corporate media.” Javid Jabbar, Convenor, Citizens Media Commission, Pakistan http://www.wiredet.com/cmd/files/studies.asp
  20. 22. Thank You

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