Media of Sri Lanka

Media of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's media outlets are generally divided along linguistic and ethnic lines. State and private media operators provide services in the main languages Sinhala, Tamil, and English. The government owns two major TV stations, radio networks operated by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), and newspaper titles in Sinhala, Tamil and English.[1]

After the growth of Sri Lankan economy, many satellite TV channels were introduced.

However, there are over a dozen privately owned radio stations and more than 30 privately operated television stations.[1] They often engage in political debates.

The use of the internet is a growing force within Sri Lanka, many of the newspapers now have online editions.[1] Because of the limited circulation for the daily and weekly newspapers, they are heavily dependent on advertising. As a result of this it is very rare to see Sri Lankan newspapers engage in investigative journalism or daring exposes of big business.



Important English language newspapers are the Daily Mirror, the Daily News and the Island. Sinhalese newspapers are Dinamina, Lankadeepa, Lakbima, and Divaena. Tamil newspapers are Uthayan and Virakesari.

TV stations

There are both government-owned and private TV channels. Some operate analog free-to-air channels while others operate their channels through satellite, IPTV or cable networks

Analog Terrestrial Networks

Name Ownership Language(s) Established & current status
1 Independent Television Network (ITN) State-owned Sinhala April 13, 1979 [2]
2 Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation State-owned Sinhala February 15, 1982 [3]
3 Channel One MTV Private English December 14,1992 [4]
4 TNL Private Sinhala / English June 21,1993[5]
5 ETV Private English 1995 [6]
6 Swarnavahini Private Sinhala March 16,1997[7][8]
7 Sirasa TV Private Sinhala June 10,1998 [9]
8 Shakthi TV Private Tamil October 20, 1998
9 Channel Eye State-owned English August 20, 2000
10 TV Lanka [9] Private Sinhala December 05,2001
11 ART Television Private English July 21,2003 [10]
12 Derana Private Sinhala October 11, 2005 [11]
13 Max TV Private Sinhala / English / Tamil January 17, 2007[12]
14 Nethra TV State-owned Tamil January 01, 2008[13]
15 Vasantham TV State-owned Tamil June 25, 2009[14]
16 Siyatha TV Private Sinhala September 17, 2009[15]
17 Vettri TV Private Tamil September 17, 2009[16]
18 Prime TV State-owned English November 12, 2009[17]
19 NTV State-owned English November 18, 2009[18]
20 DAN Tamiloli Private Tamil 2009[19]
21 VIS3 - CCTV News Private English May 07, 2010[20]
22 Carlton Sports Network - CSN [10] Private Sinhala / English March 07, 2011[21]
23 The Buddhist TV [11] Private Sinhala April 08, 2011

Local TV Channels on Satellite or Cable Networks

Name Ownership Language Established
1 Young Asia Television [12] Private Sinhala/Tamil/English 1995[22]
2 Srilakvahini Private Sinhala November 03, 2006[23]
3 Sri TV [13] Private Sinhala 2006
4 Dhammavahini [14] Private Sinhala May, 2007[24]
5 The Buddhist [15] Private Sinhala June 29, 2007[25]
6 CiTi HiTz Private Sinhala December 10, 2007
7 Gospel Vision Private Sinhala/English 2007
8 Channel C Private Sinhala March 10, 2008[26]
9 Lakroo/Info TV State-owned Sinhala April 04, 2009[27]
10 Heritage TV [16] Private Sinhala May 08, 2009[28]
11 DAN Tamiloli [17] Private Tamil 2009
12 TV Neth [18] Private Sinhala 2009
13 One SriLanka [19] Private Sinhala 2009
14 Knowledge TV Private Sinhala 2010
15 TV Dream Music Private Sinhala 2010
16 Nenasa TV Private Sinhala 2010
17 One Six Channel Private Sinhala 2011
18 Swarga TV Private Sinhala/Tamil/English 2011

Pay Television Networks (Sri Lankan Owned)

Name Technology Established
1 PEO TV (SLT Visioncom) IPTV (ADSL and WiMAX) September 2008[29]
2 Lanka Broadband Networks (LBN) Analog/Digital Cable 2000
3 Dialog TV Digital Satellite 2005[30]
4 Comet Cable(Not functioning since 2009) Analog Microwave 1999

Sri Lankan radio channels

Before 2000, apart from the state-run radio stations, there had been only a few radio channels, operated by three private companies – the Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Networks, Colombo Communication Limited, and the Maharaja Broadcasting Corporation – broadcasting in Sinhala, Tamil, and English. They included:

  • Gold FM, Sun FM, Hiru FM, and Sooriyan FM: owned by the Asia Broadcasting Corporation
  • E FM, Ran FM, and Shree FM: owned by Colombo Communication Limited (a subsidiary of EAP)
  • Sirasa FM, Shakthi FM, Y FM and Yes FM: owned by the Maharaja Broadcasting Corporation.

The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) operated three national services, in Sinhala, Tamil and English. Social awareness messages are often aired on issues such as drunk-driving, drugs and health concerns.

Throughout the authorities many private organizations obtained radio broadcasting licenses from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRC) and commenced operation of a number of terrestrial radio stations. By 2009, over thirty state and privately owned radio stations were in operation in Sri Lanka. The table below lists those currently active.

Radio Station Frequency[31] Primary Language Status
City FM 92.2MHz Sinhala Active
CRI SRI LANKA 102.0MHz Sinhala, Tamil, English and Chinese Active
FM Derana 92.4MHz, 94.5MHz, 95.8MHz, 99.2MHz, 102.3 MHz Sinhala Active
FM Frey 104.0 Mhz Colombo 93.5 Mhz Minuwangoda Sinhala,English Testing
E FM 100.4MHz, 93.2MHz, 95.8MHz, 99.2MHz, 102.3 MHz English Active
Everlasting Radio 97 MHz English Active
Gold FM 99.9MHz, 94.7MHz, 102.7MHz, 104.2MHz English Active
Hiru FM 94.7MHz, 95.3MHz, 96.7MHz, 107.0MHz Sinhala Active
Isira FM 88.0MHz, 89.0Mhz, 93.7MHz, 93.9MHz, 97.2MHz Sinhala Active
Kiss FM 89.8 MHz English Active
Kirula FM 93.6 MHz Sinhala Testing
Lak FM 92.0 MHz,93.3 MHz, 100.1 MHz Sinhala Active
Lakhanda 97.6MHz, 87.9MHz, 88.5MHz Sinhala Active
Lakviru FM 91.6 MHz Sinhala Testing
Lite FM 89.2MHz, 98.2MHz, 92.5 MHz, 90 MHz English Active
Max Radio 90.6MHz Sinhala Active
Neth FM 93.9 MHz, 95.0 MHz, 100.4 MHz, 105.4 MHz, 105.9 MHz Sinhala Active
Ran FM 91.5 MHz, 95.0 MHz, 101.3 MHz, 102.2 MHz Sinhala Active
Rangiri Sri Lanka 91.7 MHz, 96.7 MHz, 98.1 MHz, 107.2 MHz Sinhala Active
Real Radio 87.8 MHz, 93.9 MHz, 106.7 MHz English Active
Rhythm FM (formerly Asura FM) 87.6 MHz, 95.6 MHz, 100.7 MHz Sinhala Active
Sath FM 103.6 MHz, 103.0 MHz, 103.6 MHz Sinhala testing
Seth FM 101.5 MHz Sinhala Active
Shakthi FM 103.8MHz, 105.1MHz, 91.2MHz, 91.5MHz Tamil Active
Shree FM 99MHz, 99.3MHz, 93.2MHz, 98.8MHz, 95.8MHz Sinhala Active
SLBC - English National Service 90.9 MHz, 95.6 MHz, 96.4 MHz, 96.4 MHz, 98.4 MHz, 99.6 MHz, 100.2 MHz English Active
SLBC - Sinhala National Service (Swadeshiya Sevaya) 90.3 MHz, 90.3 MHz, 97.0 MHz, 98.3 MHz, 99.6 MHz, 102.0 MHz, 107.6 MHz Sinhala Active
SLBC - Sinhala Commercial Service (Velanda Sevaya) 93.3FM, 106.9FM, 92.7FM Sinhala Active
SLBC - Tamil National Service 94.2 MHz, 98.8 MHz, 101.3 MHz, 102.0 MHz, 102.4 MHz, 103.5 MHz, 104.8 MHz Tamil Active
SLBC - Tamil Commercial Service (Thendral) 92.2 MHz, 92.8 MHz, 94.2 MHz, 104.5 MHz, 104.8 MHz, 105.6 MHz, 105.6 MHz, 107.9 MHz Tamil Active
SLBC - Vidula Children's Service 102.6 MHz Sinhala, Tamil and English Active
Sirasa FM 106.6MHz, 88.8MHz, 106.5MHz, 106.2MHz, 101.7MHz Sinhala Active
Siyatha FM 90.9MHz, , 98.6MHz Sinhala Active
Sooriyan FM 103.2MHz, 97.3MHz, 93MHz, 97.9MHz Tamil Active
Sun Fm 98.8MHz English Active
TNL Radio 101.7 MHz, 87.9 MHz English Active
The Budhhist 104.5 MHz Sinhala,English Active
V FM 100.4 MHz, 104.0 MHz, 107.6 MHz Sinhala Active
Vasantham FM 102.4 MHz Tamil Active
Vettri FM 99.6 MHz, 101.5 MHz, 106.1 MHz Tamil Active
Y FM 92.6 MHz, 101.3MHz, 91.2MHz, 99.1MHZ English Active
Yes FM 88.2 MHz, 88.2 MHz, 89.5 MHz, 101.0 MHz English Active
Youth Radio 107.9 MHz, 100.7 MHz, 104.4 MHz, 104.8 MHz Sinhala Active
Your Radio 88.3 MHz English Active


Tamil language radio programmes are broadcast over the Internet including the youth service "TamilsFlashFm".

Press Freedom

Press freedom is a major concern in Sri Lanka. Both sides in the war make efforts to silence inconvenient reporters. Around 15 reporters received death threats from one faction or the other in 2004[32] The assassinated reporter Aiyathurai Nadesan, correspondent in Batticaloa for several Tamil media stated just prior to his assassination in 2005:

We are caught between a rock and a hard place. It is very difficult for us to check reports either with the security forces or the Tamil Tigers. And when a news item on local events is datelined Colombo, it puts us at risk of reprisals on the ground.

In 2005, the Tamil newspaper Thinakkural was threatened by Karuna. Copies of the newspaper were burned in the Eastern provinces.[33] On the other hand, distribution of the Tamil weekly Thinamurasu is blocked by the LTTE because it is close to another armed group, the EPDP.[33]

BBC World Service stopped its broadcast in Sinhalese and Tamil for fear of reprisal against its reporters.[33]

During the Rajapaksa administration, press freedom in Sri Lanka became the "worst in any democratic country",[34] according to the Reporters without borders index, ranking 165th among 173 countries in the index.[35] On 21 November 2008, a twelve-member group of masked men, forcibly entered the printing press of Sunday Leader, Morning Leader and Irudina Sinhala weekly and set fire damaging printing machines and copies of newspapers printed ready for distribution. The state jammed transmission of BBC programs which contained content the government disliked.[36] The main private TV network Sirasa was repeatedly threatened by minister Mervyn Silva, attacked by a petrol bomb on 2.1.2009 and raided by gunmen on 6.1.2009, who set on fire the main control room.[37] This was in response to SLBC criticizing Sirasa's coverage of the capture of Kilinochchi.

According to the head of the company, Chevaan Daniel: "It's either that the citizens of Sri Lanka are able to drive around attacking institutions armed with weapons and grenades, or there is a hand behind it."[37]

Lasantha Wikramatunga, the chief editor of the English Weekly Sunday Leader, was assassinated on the Thursday January 8, 2008 by unknown gunmen. The newspaper and its editor as well as the editor of Morning Leader have been harassed and threatened continuously during the preceding three years. All Leader publications are very critical towards the government and exponents of opposition political views.[38] According to Reporters without Borders, the Rajapaksa administration blocks investigations into the murder of journalists.[33]

Defence minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa threatened to chase Chris Morris, a BBC journalists, out of the country, if he does not act responsibly.[39]

Local reporters in the country continue to be threatened, as was the case with 54-year-old M.I. Rahmathulla, who was beaten in April 2009 for reporting on political corruption in the Batticaloa region of Sri Lanka's Eastern Province.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Country profile: Sri Lanka". BBC News. February 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ ITN Sri Lanka, About Us
  3. ^ Rupavahini, About Us
  4. ^ Launched in 1992 as MTV Newsvision, renamed as MTV in 1998 Press reference, SRI LANKA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  5. ^ Press reference, SRI LANKA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  6. ^ Launched in 1995 as ETV 2, renamed as ETV in 1997 Press reference, SRI LANKA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  7. ^ Launched in 1994 as ETV, renamed as Swarnavahini on March 16, 1997 Press reference, SRI LANKA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  8. ^ Swarnavahini, About Us
  9. ^ Launched in 1992 as MTV, renamed as Sirasa TV in 1998 Press reference, SRI LANKA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  10. ^ Launched in 1996 as Dynavision, renamed as ARTv Press reference, SRI LANKA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  11. ^ "Derana ceremonial launch today". The Daily News. 10 November 2005. 
  12. ^ TV and Radio Sri Lanka, Max TV launches today
  13. ^ Launched as Rupavahini 2 and later renamed as Channel Eye
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ About YA TV[1]
  23. ^ Srilakvahini Test Transmission [2]
  24. ^ Dharmavahini Launched [3]
  25. ^ The Buddhist TV Launched [4]
  26. ^ Channel C Launched [5]
  27. ^ Lakroo Launched [6]
  28. ^ Heritage TV Launched [7]
  29. ^ PEO TV, [8]
  30. ^ Established in 2005 as CBNSat, later renamed Dialog TV when acquired by Dialog Telekom
  31. ^ Alan G. Davies. "Radio Stations in Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  32. ^ .
  33. ^ a b c d
  34. ^ "'Drop' in S Lanka press freedom". BBC News. October 31, 2008. 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ a b "Gunmen raid Sri Lanka TV station". BBC News. January 6, 2009. 
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ Risking Lives for Information Exchange Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

External links

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