Switching Channels

January 19, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka plans to abort contracts of greenfield radio station operators and instead offer them to new investors, in a crowded market that currently has around 30 channels, the Secretary to the Media Ministry said.

“Around five to six investors have got the license, some have secured the frequencies but not started operations for years, some as long as three to five years,” Secretary W B Ganegala told LBO.

Radio, given its economic advantage, has been steadily encroaching into the print and television advertising space over the last two years.

The government, last year, came down hard on television stations, imposing taxes to air foreign programme content and advertisements.

“Despite around 30 radio stations in operation, investors are still writing to us asking permission to start a radio station. Radio, is increasingly becoming a profitable broadcasting outlet as opposed to other mediums like television,” Ganegala said.

Ganegala, however, was a bit disappointed that some radio station owners were more interested in making quick profits rather than enrich their listeners.

“We have seen some stations airing content that is not suitable to our culture. We plan to address these issues,”