June 05, Colombo: The closure of a television transmission center of the Teleshan Network (TNL) owned by the family of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by the island's telecom regulator, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Tuesday was condemned in parliament, the network said.
United People's Freedom Alliance Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa questioning the media freedom said a serious reason must be behind for the government's telecom regulator, which is directly under the President Maithripala Sirisena to seal a transmission center.
Condemning the move the MP noted that the TNL's Polgahawela transmissions center was raided and measures are being taken to remove the equipment alleging that the center has not paid license fees since 2017 even when the network has paid the relevant payments.
MP Weerawansa said a critical reason cannot be witnessed on the surface but pointed out that the network recently airing a news item criticizing the President's recent comments on the 100 day program could have led to the transmission center being sealed.
He said that a government which came into power by boasting of media freedom, regardless of who the institution belongs too or what its actions may be, such arbitrary actions cannot be approved.
Minister of Mass media Mangala Samaraweera responding said he was kept in the dark about the decision and highlighted the importance of media freedom.
Expressing his disappointment, Minister Mangala Samaraweera said this is not acceptable and they will look into it.
State Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva reminded President Maithripala Sirisena of the importance of upholding democracy and media freedom.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission says the reason for the closure is not obtaining the annual permit for broadcast and it has obtained a court order to closes the Transmission center.
The regulator states that the use of frequency instruments without a proper authorization is a punishable offense. The permits are to be obtained according to the Act No. 25 of 1991 and the revised Act No. 27 of 1996.