Friday, March 21, 2008

Sri Lanka criticised over TV boss

Media rights activists in Sri Lanka have criticised the appointment of a retired army officer to a senior post in the state-run television station.

Former army major general Sunil Silva has been made deputy director general of Rupavahini, the most widely watched TV station in the country.

The Free Media Movement said the move would give the government more control over the station during a crisis.

The government rejected the charge, saying it would strengthen the station.

The move comes days after employees of the station protested over a series of assaults on five of their colleagues.

Sunanda Deshapriya of The Free Media Movement told the BBC that Maj Gen Silva's appointment was "part of the general militarisation of the country".

"This is unprecedented," he said. "No retired military person has been appointed for the top post in the last 20 years."

Sri Lankan Media Minister Anurapriyadarshana Yapa dismissed the criticism as "propaganda".

He said Mr Silva "has not been given any mandate to run the station".

"He has been appointed only to help the administration."