In the heart of a nation struggling on multiple fronts, the rise of what can only be termed “Channel 4 Syndrome” represents not just a diversion but a dangerous distraction from the real issues plaguing Sri Lanka. While Sri Lankan apparel companies, once the pride of the region, continue to shutter their doors, thousands of employees lose their livelihoods, and the people of this nation are grappling with crises ranging from basic necessities to health, food security, education, and transport, it is lamentable that our focus has been hijacked by a foreign television channel.
Channel 4, a UK-based television channel, has managed to garner attention in Sri Lanka, not for any constructive purpose, but rather by exploiting the vulnerabilities of our society. Their recent documentary, aired with much fanfare, aimed to shed light on events that the locals are all too familiar with. However, instead of providing unbiased journalism, it seemed to be more of what Mahieash Johnney, a noted TV host, aptly termed a “Mockumentary.”
What is most disheartening is the reluctance of local journalists to reject this unverified slander, which clearly has ulterior motives. It’s time we questioned the ethics of those who choose to sensationalize events that have already been discussed and debated extensively within Sri Lanka.
To add insult to injury, some individuals associated with the Channel 4 slander claim that their actions are directed against the Rajapaksas, not Sri Lanka as a whole. This cynical justification only further underscores their disregard for the very real struggles faced by millions of Sri Lankans. We, the people of Sri Lanka, had been addressing these issues long before Channel 4 decided to swoop in and capitalize on our vulnerabilities.
It is worth noting that even the Chairman of Channel 4 seems to care little about the content his employees produce, as long as it boosts ratings. The British audience, with its own myriad of concerns, hardly seems to have time for Channel 4’s antics. However, in Sri Lanka, the channel has found an unexpectedly receptive audience. It is truly astonishing how quickly some Sri Lankans have succumbed to what we are terming as “Channel 4 Syndrome,” forsaking all else, especially at a time when our nation is desperately trying to recover from the abyss of economic turmoil.
In response to the widespread prevalence of what is colloquially referred to as ‘Channel 4 Syndrome,’ even those employed within the channel itself would not hesitate to advise the public against taking it too seriously. They, if they possess a sense of how to uphold basic human values, will recognize that they are not a judicial entity. Our preoccupation with their content should not detract from the importance of other aspects of our lives.
It is high time we heed this advice. Channel 4 Syndrome is not just a distraction; it’s a danger to our nation’s well-being. We cannot afford to lose sight of the pressing issues that require our attention and action. While there may be legitimate grievances and concerns, allowing ourselves to be manipulated by external forces seeking sensationalism and ratings is a betrayal of our own people. Let us refocus our efforts on rebuilding our nation, addressing our problems, and safeguarding the interests of the 22 million Sri Lankans who are struggling to make ends meet. The time for unity and purposeful action is now, and we cannot let ourselves be led astray by distractions that only serve to divide us further.
We, as a nation, are on a different path. Our struggle is for the betterment of our nation and for the generations to come—an exact opposite trajectory from the narrative featured in the Mockumentary and those who march with it. Wake up, please!