Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera of Sri Lanka called on the media industry to provide accurate, fruitful and faster reporting instead of compromising values in the face of stiff competition.
With the emergence of new media and social media, he said a new generational group called millennials is now actively participating in shaping our society. He added that they are IT savvy, very interconnected, independent and powerful communicators.
“We must work hard to preserve our professional journalism values. Journalists are duty bound to report news without fabrication despite temptation to compete with those who propagate false information”, the Finance Minister said in his speech during the inaugural ceremony of the 17th General Conference held in Colombo on 2nd August 2018.
Minister Samaraweera also called on governments to abandon censorship in this era as it is a self-defeating exercise and uphold values like free expression and media freedom in the region.
From the perspective of government, he said, “we cannot fear traditional and new media”, and imposing censorship and restrictions to control media “undermine fundamental values in our societies and violate our basic human rights.”
He also said that AIBD as an “inter-governmental organisation should continue to train broadcasters and build the best skills to gain broader freedom for media. Our government is ready to support your efforts.”
He cited Sri Lanka’s efforts to have greater openness and transparency for all citizens through the enactment of the Right to Information Act, which can also lead to a vibrant free media in the country.
Sri Lankan Tourism Minister John Amaratunga also spoke at the inauguration ceremony, citing the key role of broadcasters in influencing global thinking in many issues. He said broadcasting remains a strong platform in the region, especially in drawing attention to what Sri Lanka has to offer as a secure, safe and attractive tourist destination.
In his welcoming remarks, Dr Abbas Taheri, President of the AIBD General Conference and Advisor to IRIB President and Director General of International Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, identified key initiatives of AIBD to deal with the fast evolving media landscape.
“Ultimately our mission is to continue to offer a regional platform for effective discourse and exchange of information and experience. AIBD will also provide innovative training programmes and relevant research to build human resource capacity and competence,” he said.
Mr Thusira Malawwethantri, SLRC Director General, delivered the opening remarks on behalf of the host organising committee.
He described the General Conference as a unique event, bringing in key broadcasters to reflect on the state of media and find ways to achieve higher quality of journalism amidst the great complexity and competition in the region.
He thanked the support given by both private and public sectors in ensuring a successful conference.
A highlight of the inaugural ceremony was the presentation of the AIBD Awards 2018. These include the AIBD TV Award for the Best TV Programme on Youth Mental Health, AIBD TV Award for the Best TV Programme on Netizens for Uplifting Society through Internet, AIBD Radio Award for the Best Radio Programme on Diversity through Sports, and the Reinhard Keune Memorial Award for the Best Radio Programme on Uplifting Communities through Sustainable Tourism.
In the same occasion, AIBD members were treated to a colourful cultural dance.