Hurt by Press? PCC opens doors to public
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) of Sri Lanka will inaugurate the work of its dispute resolution Council next Wednesday. The Council will receive, inquire into and make findings on complaints from the public on any matter published in the press from this date onwards, a press release from the PCC said.

The Council will also inquire into any breaches of the Code of Practice of the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka, which has been adopted by the PCC. The code is geared towards providing a balance between press freedom and social responsibility as proclaimed in the Colombo Declaration of 1998, to which the Newspaper Society, the Editors Guild and the Free Media Movement (FMM) were joint signatories.

The code also covers accurate reporting, corrections and apologies, the right of reply, protection of confidential sources, general reporting and writing, privacy, harassment and subterfuge and journalistic dignity.

All valid complaints will be inquired into by the Council of the PCC either by way of conciliation, mediation or arbitration under the Arbitration Act No. 11 of 1995. Eleven (11) eminent personalities representing civil society and the press will form the Council, which will be an autonomous body within the PCC. A majority of the membership of this Council will be Non-press representatives.

The Council will be Chaired by Sam Wijesinha, former Secretary-General of Parliament. The other members of the Council are Devanesan Nesiah, former Government Agent, Jaffna and of the Public Service Commission, Javid Yusuf, former Principal Zahira College and former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Swarna Jayaweera, former lecturer at the University of Colombo, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Film Director and Lucille Wijewardene, Chartered Accountant; Siri Ranasinghe, Editor of the Lankadeepa and President of the Editors Guild, G.S. Perera, former Editor of the Dinamina and member of the Press Council, P. Balasingham, Deputy Editor of the Daily News, Dion Schoorman, former Senior Representative of Reuters (Sri Lanka) Ltd., and Mallika Wanigasundera, Free-Lance Journalist.

The Council will be housed at the ICLP Arbitration Centre at No. 61, Carmel Road, Colombo 3, with a full-time staff headed by the Chief Executive Officer Manique Mendis, a senior media and Public Relations personality. S. Dammulla, the former Press Commissioner and Secretary of the Press Council, has also joined the PCC.
The Council of the PCC is committed to provide a speedy and cost effective resolution of complaints against the press by the public. Services are provided for a nominal charge to only offset administrative costs.

A copy of the Code of Practice and a booklet on How to Complain and a simple Guide to the inquiry procedures will be available in all three languages at the PCC office to assist members of the public. The Press Complaints Commission is a self-regulatory mechanism and is incorporated under the Companies Act of Sri Lanka.
Its subscribers are the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka and the Free Media Movement.

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