Rupavahini in ‘cultural censorship’ - FMM

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 18:38 GMT]
A local media watchdog Wednesday slammed Sri Lanka’s government for abruptly ending a television series after altering the dialogue in the last episode that was broadcast. The Free Media Movement (FMM) said it “condemns this cultural censorship” and asked Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRC) to resume broadcasting the ‘Sudu Kapuru Pethi’ programme, whose story line, written in 2003, is set in island’s ethnic conflict. According to a BBC Sinhala service report, the SLRC says the teledrama ‘disgraced’ the Sri Lankan security forces at a time of war.

“The government-controlled SLRC has stopped telecasting the teledrama Sudu Kapuru Pethi without giving any official reasons after 10th episode from last week,” FMM said.

Furthermore, “by censoring without the knowledge of the producer the dialogue " Jaffna Tears is cold as tears in Hambantota" in the last episode shown on SLRC shows the level of censorship considered acceptable in the national broadcaster,” FMM said.

Unofficially, FMM said, it has been told that the teledrama “was banned because it discusses issues related to Tamil people.”

Explaining the decision to ban the program, head of SLRC, Newton Gunarathne, told the BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya, the teledrama insulted the security forces.

“Some parts of this teledrama brings disgrace to these soldiers and their self respect, on the other hand if we were to take episodes off and telecast it that would have been unfair on the audience so we had to discontinue it," explains head of SLRC Newton Gunarathne.

But the FMM said “the banning of seemingly unharmful Sudu Kapury Pethi reflects the continuing suppression of cultural production is Sri Lanka.”

“This censorship marks another blow to freedom of freedom of expression and highlights the negative impact of Government political control of what should be an independent public broadcaster capable of reflecting the rich tapestry of Sri Lankan society,” FMM said further.

The teledrama Sudu Kapuru Pethi is based on the award winning youth novel published in 2003 and was produced by Atula Peries, and award winning dramatist working SLRC as a producer. The story is set amidst the ongoing ethnic conflict.

“Recreating and promoting tolerance of diversity is a right and role of cultural productions,” FMM said. “[We] condemn this cultural censorship and request the SLRC authorities to allow Sudu Kapuru Pethi to be telecast on SLRC.”

 

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