National newspaper Editors resolved 169 complaints made directly to them by aggrieved readers in 2021, while the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL) handled 57 complaints from the public, of which 16 were outside its scope.
The complaints resolved by the Editors come under Clause 4 ‘Opportunity to Reply’ (‘Right of Reply’) procedure laid down by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka in their Code of Professional Practice (Editors’ Code).
The Editors’ Code, which is implemented by the PCCSL, provides for conditional third party complaints. Third party complaints are entertained from six categories viz; environmental groups, animal welfare groups, adults on behalf of minors, an immediate family member of an accident victim, an immediate family member of a person in custody and anyone complaining on behalf of another, provided the prior written permission of the person personally affected is obtained and the Complaint Form signed.
The annual report of the PCCSL for 2021 presented by its Chief Executive Officer Sukumar Rockwood was released via a zoom meeting on 7 September. It stated that the PCCSL conducted 31 meetings with 200 publishers, editors and journalists. Sixteen awareness meetings were held with 485 members of civil society.
The PCCSL, which is an independent, voluntary, self-regulatory body will celebrate its 19th anniversary on 15 October. The PCCSL is supported by the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka (NSSL), The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL), the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) and is affiliated with the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance and the South Asian Free Media Association – Sri Lanka Chapter.
The PCCSL works on the principles of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration through its Secretariat and the Dispute Resolution Council (DRC). The DRC is made up of six non-journalists, including the chairman and five journalists. It is headed by former Secretary General of Parliament, Attorney Nihal Seneviratne. The other non-journalist members are; Javid Yusuf, Dion Schoorman, Lucille Wijewardene, Gnana Moonesinghe and Dr. A. C. Visvalingam. The journalist members are: Siri Ranasinghe, P. Balasingham, Pramod de Silva, D. M. L. Andree and Nilantha Madurawala.
The nine-member Board of Directors comprise; Kumar Nadesan (Chairman, nominee of SLPI), Sinha Ratnatunga (Deputy Chairman, nominee of The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka), Nimal Welgama (nominee of the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka), Thaha Muzammil (nominee of the Free Media Movement), Manik de Silva (nominee of the SLPI) and Frank de Zoysa (nominee of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association) were re-elected via the zoom meeting. Dharman Wickramaratne, N. M. Ameen and Mohanlal Piyadasa were re-elected by the general membership via the zoom meeting of the PCCSL.
Messrs Ernst and Young were re-elected Auditors of the Company and Messrs. Corporate Services (Pvt) Limited were re-elected secretaries of the Company via the zoom meeting.