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 Post subject: Sri Lanka shuts radio stations for misreporting
 Post Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:48 am 
Sri Lanka shuts radio stations for misreporting

ABC was forced to pull the plug on its five radio stations – SUN FM, GOLD FM, HIRU FM, SHAA FM and SURIYAN FM -- early last morning with the Media Ministry launching a probe on the controversial news report.

@ DM/HT /Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Sri Lankan government has ordered the closure of five FM news radio stations run by a single company, ABC, for broadcasting a false report on Wednesday, saying that the LTTE's suicide squad had attacked a Sinhala village near Weerawila, the site for a major airport in South Sri Lanka.

The government said that the broadcast had triggered panic in the entire Tissamaharama area, which is a religious centre housing the famous Skanda or Murugan temple at Kattaragama.

Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was forced to pull the plug on its five radio stations – SUN FM, GOLD FM, HIRU FM, SHAA FM and SURIYAN FM -- early last morning with the Media Ministry launching a probe on the controversial news report.

The Free Media Movement's Sunanda Deshapirya told Hindustan Times on Friday, that ABC radio's local reporter had quoted some eyewitnesses who said that they had seen some people in black uniforms who looked like the LTTE's Black Tiger suicide squad, which had attacked the Anuradhapura air base on Monday.

However, within five minutes, the ABC's stations broadcast a denial, as the original report was incorrect. But the government said that the report had already caused panic in the area.

The broadcasting licensing given to ABC was promptly cancelled, Deshapriya said. But ABC staffers said that only a closure was ordered. The radio station was trying to negotiate a settlement with the government as the fault lay with the radio station, the staffers added.

Based on wrong information received from some source, the five radio stations aired breaking news reports of Tamil Tigers slaughtering villagers. The false report angered President Mahinda Rajapaksa who ordered the media ministry to carry out a probe which led to the ABC Network having its broadcast licence suspended.


Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told the Daily Mirror on Thursday that officials recorded statements from the private radio channel regarding the news report. “According to reports received by us, this particular radio channel aired details about an imaginary incident which misled the public causing panic. When the inquiry is over, we will see what further action needs to be taken against this radio network,” the Minister said.

He said security officials in the area confirmed that rumors were being spread about an armed gang entering the village after a child mistook a stock of firewood for weapons.Meanwhile senior Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told the Daily Mirror that irresponsible news broadcasting by ABC Radio was what led to the radio licence being suspended. “The government has been monitoring the activities of this radio station for some time. This is not the first time they have broadcast misinformation creating panic and confusion among the people,” Mr. Fernandopulle said.

The proprietor of the radio stations was an up and coming politician in the opposition United National Party (UNP).


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