Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
(SLBC) News Director Raja Katugampola
is in hospital.He says Chairman of the SLBC Hudson Samarasinghe and two security personnel assualted him.
The BackgroundRaja Katugampola is the same News Director who got into trouble over the SLBC report about LTTE leader Prabhakaran's death in the Tsunami.The SLBC
ran the story on an anonymous tip, without waiting for any confirmation.It turned out to be a very big mistake.He
was fired for that and replaced but he
managed to save his
ass, and get his
job back, because he
was in Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's good books.
A few days ago there was a story online that said the Chairman of the SLBC
, Hudson Samarasinghe was again firing News Director Katugampola
was not happy with the way SLBC News was being handled.As had been expected, since the Presidential elections were announced, the political players inside all the state media had been manipulating thier news to make it favourable to the UPFA candidate Mahinda Rajapakse.
News Director Katugampola
is a known Mahinda supporter and had been seen as following a openly pro-Mahinda and anti-Ranil agenda in his
work in the past month or so.LankaPage
as having said 'I don't need pro-Mahinda director here at SLBC'.It seemed Samarasinghe
was no longer willing to toe the UPFA line and make a heavy pull for Mahinda in their newscasts.
But people at SLBC
stated that this story was completely wrong, and that though Samarasinghe
had warned Katugampola
conduct, but had not removed him from his
post or threatened to do so.
A few days ago SLBC News ran a story about a fight between UNP candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe and Ceylon Workers Congress leader Thondaman.The SLBC
was criticized because the story had no substance and no backing and was seen simply as an attempt to discredit the UNP CWC alliance.
When Chairman Samarasinghe
about why he
ran this story, Katugampola
refused to take the Chairman's calls and avoided him in the SLBC building.Sources within SLBC
also alledge that Katugampola
had been missing a lot of his
work and neglecting his
duties for reasons unknown, and that Samarasinghe
had been quite annoyed about how things were being run in general.
All we know for sure is that there was a SLBC
Directors meeting this morning.Chairman Samarasinghe
called this meeting to discuss a letter sent to him from the Commissioner of Elections regarding 38 specific occasions in which the SLBC
had behaved in violation of election regulations during their broadcasts.Someone who was present at the meeting states that Samarasinghe
was not happy about this, and wanted to question Katugampola
.The News Director was the only person who was absent at the meeting.Samarasinghe
then discovered that Katugampola
was in the building and sent a peon to search for him, and to get him to attend the meeting.Sources at SLBC say that when the peon found Katugampola
the News Director asked the peon to inform Samarasinghe
was not in the building.After the meeting Samarasinghe personally went to the News Division to look for Katugampola
, who had made himself scarce by then.
Later in the day Katugampola had finally gone into the Chairman's office.He
just couldn't dodge the Chairman anymore.
says that then the Chairman stood up and assualted him, and called for the security personnel outside to also assault him.According to a interview given to Sirasa TV the News Director says the security personnell held him from behind and he
was not sure who assaulted him as his
spectacles were smashed and his
vision was blurred.He
also claims one of the security personnel picked him up and threw him against the wall twice.
Hudson's Story:The Chairman says that he
was displeased with the way the News Director had been acting with regard to the upcoming Presidential elections.He
had sent several messages to the News Director asking him to explain himself, and that Katugampola
had just avoided them without reply.Samarasinghe
says that today when Katugampola
came into his
office there were heated words exchanged, and that Katugampola
got into a fight with his
security personnel upon exiting the Chairman's office.He
did not witness the incident.But has taken action to suspend the duties of the security personnel.
SLBC Source 1's Story:When Katugampola did not arrive for the morning meeting and dodged the Chairman during the day Samarasinghe gave orders to have the News Director removed from his post and from the premises of the SLBC.
The source says Samarasinghe
is known to say things like 'Get this guy out of the building' (Dapan Okawa Eliyata).He
generally expects his
orders to be followed.According to the source Katugampola came into Hudson's office to find out why he
was being thrown out and then he
kicked one of the security personnel.At this point the two security personnel assaulted him.
SLBC Source 2's Story:Inside the Chairman's office Samarasinghe criticized Katugampola
both for his
political agenda being reflected in their newscasts and for his
neglection of duties.When Katugampola
said that his
wife was ill Samarasinghe had said that Katugampola's problems with his
wife were of no concern to the SLBC
.At this point Katugampola has stated that his
wife is important to him while Samarasinghe
has many women, and is not concerned about his
wife.The source says that at this point the Chairman assaulted Katugampola
So, those are four of the stories that I have heard so far, including the two official statements made by Samarasinghe
.The News Director (ex?) is now in the Colombo General Hospital, but the doctors say he was never in any danger and was not seriously hurt at all.