Sri Lanka Government and Media Profile

Sri Lanka Government Bias

Sri Lanka government and media profile - Right-Center bias - ConservativeSri Lanka Media and Government Country Profile


Government Type: Semi-presidential system (mixture of a presidential and parliamentary system.)
Head of State: The President of Sri Lanka is Ranil Wickremesinghe. He is the head of state, the commander in chief of the armed forces, and the head of government.
Head of Parliament: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (Appointed on 5/12/2022)
Political Party: United National Party
Political Position: Right-Center

Press Freedom

World Press Freedom Rank: Sri Lanka 146/180

According to Reporters without Borders, in Sri Lanka, journalists are often subject to intimidation and harassment. Further, the report states that during the presidency of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, “there was a surge in cases of police harassment of journalists, including raids, interrogations, and acts of intimidation, for all sorts of reasons.” The Committee to Protect Journalists (independent, a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide) states that the government uses the Prevention of Terrorism Act to interrogate and harass journalists. 

Media Ownership and Government Analysis

Although the media landscape features private broadcasters, The Media Ownership Monitor reports that the state owns most of the media in Sri Lanka. The state is also the regulator of the media and oversees both licensing and regulation through the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC). The analysis concludes that this dual role “can result in a serious conflict of interest. Such a conflict enables the state to control the media space by amplifying its own message and suppressing the messages of its critics.”

Sri Lanka’s public services broadcasters (state governed) are the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) and ITN (Independent Television Network). TNL TV is the first private TV channel, and Telshan Network (PVT) Ltd owns it. The privately-owned Hiru TV/Radio and the TV Derana (Entertainment channel) are among the other privately-owned media groups.

The Rajapaksa family holds almost every position in the government. Mahinda Rajapaksa is the former Prime Minister, his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the President, Basil Rajapaksa is the finance minister, and Chamal Rajapaksa is the defense minister. Recently the government increased its control over social media due to the deepening economic crisis in the country, which resulted in protests against the government. 

Finally, the Government is the primary advertiser on state-owned media. This leads to significant pro-Government bias. In summary, the Government of Sri Lanka has a powerful influence on the media.

Last Updated on March 18, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check

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