Sri Lankan Supreme Court orders media to be unbiased during presidential polls

15:20, January 16, 2010      

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A five-member bench of the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka on Friday ordered the media to be unbiased and comply with the guidelines announced by the Commissioner of Elections during the ongoing presidential polls campaign.

The bench of the Supreme Court said the print and electronic media in the state and private sector need to comply with the Court's order. But the bench specifically warned the state television and radio for being biased.

Considering the petition by the opposition common candidate, the former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka, the Court has issued the ruling for both state media and private media to heed to the guidelines by the Election's Commissioner who warned the media to be unbiased on the day of nominations for the January 26 polls.

In his petition, Fonseka has accused the state media of being "single voiced" and requested the Court to issue a direction to the state media to follow the Commissioner's orders.

He mainly filed the petition against the state run media ITN (Independent Television Network) and Lake House for violating the guidelines of the Commissioner against biased coverage of the presidential election campaign.

Election monitoring groups accused the state media of ignoring the Commissioner's directives though he has appointed a Competent Authority to monitor the media until January 26.

According to Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization fighting corruption, most of the vital guidelines and circular issued by the Commissioner for the conduct of a free and fair presidential election are followed in the breach.

Source: Xinhua
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