The Free Media Movement said the decision of the BBC to close down the five-minute 'Sandeshaya' radio program would deprive people of information at a time when there is an escalation in human rights attacks in Sri Lanka.
This statement was originally published on FMM’s Twitter account on 4 December 2020.
The Free Media Movement (FMM) is deeply concerned regarding the decision to close down the Sandeshaya radio program on 1 December. We consider that this is an action that should not be taken by a media institution such as the BBC, which has stood in solidarity for a more democratic media space. Several years ago, BBC restricted the half-hour Sandeshaya radio program broadcast to five minutes. The five-minute program was aired five days a week, at 10.00 pm, on the Sirasa FM radio channel.
According to sources, the BBC is working towards operating the BBC Sinhala service as an online media program. The digital literacy rate in Sri Lanka is 40.1 percent, according to a survey conducted in 2017. It is a significantly lower number in rural and plantation areas. Online media has become popular among urban areas. Television and radio are the most popular media streams in rural communities and among working people. In such a situation, the closure of even one small media outlet that was available to obtain information as well as express ideas is a serious problem. At a time when there are many issues regarding media freedom in Sri Lanka, and human rights issues are escalating, it would not be appropriate for the people to miss even a five-minute opportunity from the media. The Free Media Movement expects that the BBC will focus on continuing the Sandeshaya radio program with a more democratic and human rights vision.