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EC speaks of legal action against state and private media for violating laws

The Elections Commission (EC) has said it would seriously consider taking legal action against a number of state and private electronic and print media institutions after the presidential election for deliberately violating election laws and media guidelines issued by the Commission.

Chairman of the Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya has told a press conference that these media establishments have promoted a single presidential candidate of their choice and fully backed his election propaganda campaign without giving a fair space in their print material or air time during TV transmission to other candidates.

Deshapriya has shown a graphic prepared by the Information Department displaying the air time given to Presidential candidates by eight state and private TV stations.

He has noted that the two state-owned TV stations and two private TV stations were the biggest abusers of the media guidelines and media ethics.

“Out of the eight TV stations, the behaviour of two private and one state TV station was shameful and extremely heinous. Two others are trying to become fair and three others have shown the signs of fairness,” Deshapriya has said.

The graphic shown  by the EC Chairman has shown that one extremely bias private TV station had given 71% of air time to one single candidate during their prime time news bulletins, 26% to the main rival candidate and 3% to all other 33 candidates. Another private TV station had given 81% of air time to the same candidate and 19% airtime to the main rival candidate and nothing to any other candidate.

The state-owned TV station had allocated 64% air time to a particular candidate, 30% to rival candidates and 6% to others. Other TV stations were relatively fair in comparison to the rest.

“If these TV stations, social media platforms and FM stations continue to abuse the freedom they enjoy and violate the guidelines issued to them by the EC even during the grace period, we will not hesitate to de-link them from their frequencies through the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC). We also don’t issue official elections results to them,” Deshapriya has said.

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