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Huge registration fee slapped on news websites


The government yesterday announced the imposition of a registration fee of Rs.100,000 and Rs. 50,000 annual fee for news websites, which it said was the first step towards preventing filth being disseminated.

Media Minster Keheliya Rambukwella, addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo, said that the proposed amendment to the Sri Lanka Press Council Law No. 5 of 1973, would make provision for the levy of a Rs.100,000 registration fee and Rs. 50,000 annual fee.

The new regulation, he said, would also apply to news websites which have already been registered with the Media Ministry.

Asked what further action the government contemplated against web publications which it said were causing harm to defenceless individuals, the Minister said: "This is the first step in the process of regulating those who were engaged in publishing filth. The legal process takes time. It cannot be done in a hurry."

He said the main objective of the new law was to ensure that the contents of internet sites did not cause harm to defenceless individuals.

Asked about a meeting this week between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ruwan Ferdinandez, Editor of the website SriLanka Mirror, which was raided by the CID on July 4, Rambukwelle said many people met the President on a daily basis.

When questioned if it was proper for the President to be talking to persons accused by the government of defaming people, the Minister said, "He may have advised Ruwan."

Asked if the President would be meeting Mangala Samaraweera MP, who edits SriLankaXnews, the official website of the UNP, which was also raided by the CID, he said: "The President will talk to anyone, time permitting. But, I do not know if he is scheduled to meet Mr. Samaraweera."

Rambuwalle said that it was difficult for those who were in the habit of character assasination to mend their ways.
~ by Zacki Jabbar


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