POST TIME: 4 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Sri Lankan election head withdraws TV censorship after criticism
AFP, Colombo

Sri Lankan election head withdraws TV censorship after criticism

Sri Lanka’s election commission chief yesterday backed down from plans to censor a state-owned TV station following criticism that his actions were supporting the main opposition candidate at this month’s presidential polls.

In a surprise move, commission chairman Mahinda Deshapriya had banned any political programing on the Independent Television Network (ITN) after accusing the channel of harming the campaign of frontrunner Gotabhaya Rajapakse. “After considering many representations by several parties that my order was discriminatory, I revoke the (censorship) order issued on ITN,” Deshapriya said in a letter to the broadcaster, seen by AFP.

The censorship order, which had been due to come into effect midnight Sunday, came after ITN aired a programme alleging loyalists to the previous regime thwarted a corruption probe into strongman ex-president Mahinda Rajapakse’s family. Independent poll-monitoring group the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said privately-owned TV stations were worse than ITN in violating campaign laws and in supporting one candidate over others.