English Penalty

July 07, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s television industry aimed at English speakers have sought relief after a penal tax brought by Sinhala teledrama artistes threatened to put them out of business, officials said. The government had collected 160 million rupees and the money has been put in treasury bills Yapa said while a decision is made on what to do with it. Media reports said last week that several television stations including the mass-market state-owned Rupavahini, ITN as well as privately owned Sirasa and Art TV had delayed the payment of the penalty after advertising revenues fell.

Media Minister Anura Yapa confirmed that a television station had asked to delay the levy due to financial difficulties.

“Recently a media firm requested us to give them some time to pay the taxes due to financial issues in their firm,” Yapa told reporters.

“I then informed them to forward their request to the finance ministry.”

Sri Lanka’s television stations catering to the small English audiences say they are under threat due to the special levy. The industry says the jobs of about 1,250 people are now in jeopardy.

Sri Lanka brought in a controversial tax on imported television content last year i