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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2223

SLBC Chief responds to BBC antics

By Janaka Perera

Colombo, 15 December, ( "BBC thinks that Sri Lanka is still a British colony."

This was Sri Lanka Broadcasting Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe's response to a complaint by BBC's South-East Asia Regional Head saying that the SLBC had violated the agreement with his organization by jamming the broadcast of LTTE 'Sun God' Prabhakaran's so-called Heroes Day speech, last month.

Speaking on the Isira Radio Channel's daily news discussion program on Sunday (Dec.14), Samarasinghe said that he preferred to violate an agreement rather than betray his country. He reminded the BBC that earlier too (some years back) he had violated the agreement by stopping the broadcast of the BBC Sinhala Service program titled 'Kittugen Ahanna' (Ask Kittu) conducted by arch Tiger supporter and former Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Chairman Vasantha Raja. In this program the latter regularly interviewed LTTE strongman Kittu who was later killed in high seas.

Among the groups that are deeply disturbed by the SLBC Chairman's action is undoubtedly the so-called Free Media Movement (FMM), the Convenor of which, Sunanda Deshapriya once criticized Samarasinghe for branding LTTE's female suicide bombers prostitutes. The latter was perfectly justified in saying so since these women are ever ready to descend to any level to achieve their deadly objectives.

The SLBC Chief has categorically said that he is not prepared to use a State-run media organization (maintained with public funds) for the propaganda of a terrorist outfit trying to destroy that very State. Now that the 'Voice of Tigers' was off the air, the BBC has taken over the task of broadcasting LTTE propaganda, alleged the SLBC Chief.

India has already ordered Tamil National Alliance MP M.K. Sivajilingam out of the country within 72 hours for doing propaganda for the LTTE which has been banned there. But all that is immaterial to the self-styled free media champions here and abroad. All what matters to them is that the LTTE mafia is not officially proscribed here, although for all intents and purposes it is a banned organization.

According to the 'Reporters Without Borders' SLBC rendered inaudible on November 27, a speech by Prabhakaran although the broadcasting corporation is "contractually obliged to retransmit the BBC's Tamil and Sinhala programmes every day."

Going by RWB logic and the BBC's arguments the crucial question that comes to the mind is whether the All India Radio - in order to uphold proper media freedom - should broadcast speeches (if they are made) of the terrorists who caused last month's carnage in Mumbai. If it is so we expect BBC to broadcast on a regular basis the views of Osama Bin Laden, the Taleban Leaders and other anti-Western Islamic zealots.

This kind of 'media freedom' reminds me of cartoon by the late British cartoonist David Low when Sir Oswald Mosley, Leader of the now-defunct British Fascist Party protested against measures that the British authorities took against his party - considered a threat to parliamentary democracy. The caption of the cartoon - showing a man making a fiery speech - read: "British fascists demand their democratic rights."

The BBC and RWB have deliberately chosen to ignore that all terrorists thrive on publicity. The bigger the publicity greater is the advantage for them – a fact that has been proved beyond doubt over the past 30 years. They have forgotten that the Canadian Authorities too blocked the 'Sun God's' Nov. 27 speech. If RWB and the BBC do not want to treat the LTTE as terrorists but as an ordinary political party entitled to the right of free speech it is their wish. But these clowns should not expect the Sri Lankan State to subscribe to that ludicrous idea. The mystery here is why RWB and BBC have never questioned the suppression of media freedom in Tiger dominated areas in the identical manner they are admonishing the Sri Lankan Government.

The law does not allow a convicted murderer to articulate his views justifying or denying his crimes over State media. So why should the government make an exception in Prabhakaran's case? But that is exactly what the RWB and BBC and perhaps the FMM wants the SLBC to do.

- Asian Tribune -

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