By Indika Sri Aravinda
The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has decided to introduce strict guidelines on the use of children for television reality shows, commercials, and voicing of TV commercials. Chairman of NCPA Professor Muditha Vidanapathirana said that a Gazette notification will be issued in future prohibiting the use of children under the age of 13 for television reality shows.
Vidanapathirana said that all television channels in Sri Lanka will be required to adhere to the guidelines, while legal action will be taken against the channels that fail to comply. The National Child Protection Authority has received a number of complaints on the abuse of children used for television reality shows.
Professor Muditha Vidanapathirana said continuous discussions have been held with the Ministry of Mass Media in this regard and the drafting of the guidelines has reached the last phase.
A proposal has also been put forward to amend the laws allowing the use of children below the age of three for commercials and to increase the age limit to 13 and above as per international standards.
Attention has also been drawn on children being used to voice international commercials and cartoons broadcast on television. Professor Vidanapathirana further said that a special unit has been established to monitor and regulate commercials broadcast on television.
The amended guidelines will be submitted for the approval of the Cabinet of Minister and will thereafter be implemented from December 2020, Vidanapathirana added. The move comes after a 54-year-old set designer for a reality show on a private television station was arrested on charges of abusing a number of underage boys at his residence in Pannipitiya.
The man, who had posed as an English teacher as well, had lured underage male students from his tuition class to his residence and had sexually abused them. The Police had found various pictures and footage of the abused children which are suspected to have been sold to foreign countries by the suspect. Preliminary investigations revealed that the man had abused a number of underage male children since 2018.