Presenting data analysed by the Ministry of Mass Media on the news reporting of eight television stations, Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday that in no other election has the media behaved worse than they have this presidential election.
Deshapriya said if television stations start to give equal airtime to candidates in their news reporting during the silent period starting today, “we can think that they are at least observing sil on Poya days.”
The National Election Commission (NEC), meanwhile, will take two state media institutes to court for not following guidelines issued for election coverage, Deshapriya said.
“They have not only violated the guidelines but also have not followed the directives issued. After the election, everybody in those two institutes will be sued separately,” he added.
Speaking to the media yesterday (13 Nov), Deshapriya noted that all electronic media institutes use air-waves which are public property and the two-state media organisations, in particular, are public institutions subject to directives.
Based on recommendations made at a meeting of NEC officials that that was to be held yesterday evening, he said, the commission may consider terminating the two institutes’ broadcast license or not releasing election results to them.
Noting that the President is responsible for a free and fair election as per Section 33 of the presidential election act, Deshapriya said he has requested President Maithripala Sirisena to include a condition when issuing broadcast licenses that the media organisations do not show special preference or support to a candidate during an election period.
Political parties have also started a disgraceful act of promoting their candidates through tuition masters and religious leaders, said the Commissioner, where they tell students and devotees whom to vote for.