Sri Lankan media circles were jolted by a recent development that saw the government surreptitiously transfer control of one of the nations most loved state TV channels, to one of the most controversial private players on the media scene in Sri Lanka.
In what is seen as one of the most draconian decisions taken by any government in the recent past a national TV channel with ‘Island wide frequencies’ has been parceled out to a private business entity.
LYCA mobile owner Alirajah Subaskaran, who is a very controversial businessman with allegations of bribery, money laundering etc, took control of Swarnavahini from the EAP Group during the last regime, under the Premiership of Ranil Wickramasinghe.
This time around, the media industry was stunned to learn that CHANNEL EYE, a state TV organization under the Rupavahini Act, was parceled out without so much as a whisper, to Lyca.
The deal smacks of an inside deal and political favor’s, according to many industry observers who also note that it is completely illegal.
TRC regulations demand a very strict and stringent process of frequency allocation, but in this case, the govt has handed over multiple frequencies to one single owner, without an open tender or following govt procedure.
Legal action against this move is expected in the coming months by a number of organizations, citing a lack of due process and illegal transfer of frequencies of a national broadcaster that is administered under the Rupavahini Act of the Sri lankan Parliament.
In 2010, a similar channel take over resulted in the creation of CSN, a sports channel, operated by entities close to the then govt. The channel collapsed following the fall of the government and those connected to the channel were investigated and some served jail terms.
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