Gagging the web and Internet: Implications of the proposed Private TV Broadcasting Regulations in Sri Lanka

Censorship of media in Sri Lanka isn’t a new phenomenon, but the Rajapakse regime took it a step further recently when it recently promulgated a new set of regulations through a gazette notification, called the Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations. The over broad and ill-defined regulations, in parts copied and pasted verbatim from Indian Cable TV and IP TV regulations, were a measure to further undermine independent media in Sri Lanka.

On 14th November 2008, the Supreme Court, issuing a stay order suspending the operation of these regulations, granted a case lodged by the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association and others who opposed the proposed regulations as an affront to the freedom of expression leave to proceed. The case is to be heard on 26 January 2009.

Disturbingly, the proposed regulations are a significant challenge to all bloggers in Sri Lanka, since they seek to hold accountable all ISPs for the qualitative nature of the content transmitted, accessed and produced using their networks and further, makes no distinction between IP TV (e.g. SLT’s PeoTV) and TV / televisual content over the web and Internet (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo).

To discuss the implications of these proposed regulations, I’ll facilitate a roundtable discussion together with Beyond Borders on the 22nd November, from 3.45pm to 6pm at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI). I hope this discussion will animate youth activists and bloggers in Sri Lanka to take individual and collective action against these regulations which particularly under the Rajapakse regime and also future governments can be used to censor, at will, (video) content on the web and Internet.

Read the agenda for the discussion here. Read the background briefing for the discussion, written from the perspective of a new media producer / blogger / web activist critiquing the proposed regulations as a PDF here.

The participation I have in mind are youth activists, new media producers and bloggers, NOT mainstream media journalists, or senior staff / heads of the communications units of of NGOs, INGOs or CSOs. There’s no real cut off age, but I want to target this discussion at compelling new voices, who may not agree with each other, but are passionate about self-expression using web and online media on the Internet. We already have the confirmed participation of some of Sri Lanka’s most recognised and respected voices in the blogosphere.

Please confirm your participation with Beyond Borders or myself, since seats are limited at the venue.

6 thoughts on “Gagging the web and Internet: Implications of the proposed Private TV Broadcasting Regulations in Sri Lanka

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