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Indicators of Risks to Media Pluralism

Media Audience Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of audience and readership across Sri Lanka’s media platforms based on audience share. Concentration is measured by using the nation’s top 4 owners in the media market. Presented below are the sums of audience shares in Television, Radio and Print respectively, based on the audience data provided by the Kantar Lanka Market Research Bureau (LMRB) for the year 2017.

Why?

This indicator assesses a high risk to media pluralism in Sri Lanka due to a high audience concentration in the markets of television, radio and print.

Television

The TV Market in Sri Lanka has a high audience concentration, where the 4 major owners reach an audience of 77%. The market leader is The Capital Mahajara Organisation, which is owned by the Rajamahendran family. With its three TV stations, The Capital Maharaja Organisation reaches 22.2% of the Sri Lankan audience. Next is Power House, which is co-owned by Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Amunugama Fernando. Through its two TV stations, Power House has an audience share of 19.8%. Meanwhile, Rayynor Silva’s Asia Broadcasting Corporation, with only one TV station, reaches an audience share of 18.1%. The Government operates 4 TV stations under the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the Independent Television Network. Through these respective bodies, The Government reaches an audience share of 16.9%.

Television Audience Concentration 77%
Rajamahendran Family: 22.22% The Capital Maharaja Organisation: Sirasa TV (15.4%), Shakthi TV (6.1%), TV 1 (0.7%)
Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Amunugama Fernando: 19.8%Power House: Derana TV (19.5%), Ada Derana 24/7 (0.3%)
Rayynor Silva: 18.1% ABC: Hiru TV(18.1%)
The Government: 16.9% SLRC and ITN: Rupavahini (4.3%), Eye/Nethra (3.2%), ITN (7%), Vasantham TV (2.4%)

Radio

Despite the availability of over 50 radio stations, Sri Lanka’s radio market is also highly concentrated, with the 4 major owners reaching an audience of 74.45%. This poses a high risk to fostering a space for media pluralism. The market leader in Radio is the Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which is owned by Rayynor Silva. Although ABC commenced under the Sunrise Radio Group, its success in the broadcasting field has continued under Silva’s purview. ABC’s 5 radio stations cumulatively reach an audience of 24.72%. Following ABC is The Capital Maharaja Organisation, with its five radio stations reaching an audience share of 22.76%. Power House, owned by Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Amunugama Fernando, reaches an audience of 14.31% with only one radio station, FM Derana. Similarly, ASSET Radio Broadcasting, owned by Nihal Seneviratne Epa, has an audience share of 12.66% through its single station.

Radio Audience Concentration: 74.45%

Rayynor Silva: 24.72%ABC: Hiru FM (10.31%), Sooryian FM (9.47%), Shaa FM (3.93%), Gold FM (0.69%), Sun FM (0.32%)
Rajamahendran Family: 22.76%The Capital Maharaja Organisation: Sirasa FM (12.88%), Shakthi FM (5.94%), Y FM (3.7%), Yes FM (0.2%), Legends FM (0.04%)
Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Amunugama Fernando: 14.31%Power House: FM Derana (14.31%)
Nihal Seneviratne Epa: 12.66%ASSET Radio Broadcasting: Neth FM (12.66%) 

Print

Sri Lanka’s Print market, the oldest and largest media sector with over 80 publications, remains highly concentrated and the top 4 owners have an audience share of 75.45%. Owned by the Wijewardene Family, Wijeya Newspapers is the market leader. With its 17 publications, it reaches 47.18% of the audience in the print sector. The state-owned publishing house i.e. the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (ANCL), or Lake House, has an audience share of 9.83%. Upali Newspapers, owned by the Welgama Family, reaches 10%. Finally, Ceylon Newspapers, owned by the Alles Family, with its four publications reaches an audience share of 8.44%.  The top 3 publishers, Wijeya Newspapers, ANCL and Upali Newspapers were historically founded and owned by members of the Wijewardene Family. Although the ANCL was nationalised in 1972, some members of the Wijewardene Family still hold a minor percentage of shares in the company.

Print Readership Concentration: 75.45%


Wijeya Newspapers: 47.18%
Wijewardene Family
Lake House: 9.83%
The Government
Upali Newspapers: 10%
Welgama Family
Ceylon Newspapers: 8.44%
Alles Family
Irida Lankadeepa (27.15%), Lankadeepa (5.26%), Wijeya (5.95%) Sirikatha (3.47%), Sunday Times (1.27%), Ada (1.19%), Vijey (1.03%), Daily Mirror (0.55%), Daily FT (0.08%), Weekend FT (0.14%), Tharunaya (0.31%) Deshaya Sunday (0.22%), Tamil Mirror (0.17%), Pariganaka (0.23%), LW (0.07%), GO (0.05%), Hi! (0.02%), Easy Guide (0.02%)
Sunday Observer (2.18%), Silumina (1.92%), Dinamina (0.73%), Tharuni (1.71%), Daily News (0.57%), Thinakaran (0.27%), Thinakaran Vaaramanjari (0.36%), Arogya (0.11%), Sarasawiya (0.17%), Budusarana (0.89%), Manchu (0.31%), Subasetha (0.21%), Sithmina (0.14%), Mihithuru (0.17%), Vanna Vaanavil (0.09%)
Divaina Sunday (6.88%), Divaina Daily (1.25%), Sunday Island (0.57%), The Island (0.13%), Nawaliya (0.27%), Vidusara (0.90%)
Mawbima Sunday (7.09%), Mawbima Daily (0.87%), Ceylon Today Sunday edition (0.37%), Ceylon Today (0.11%)
LOW MEDIUM HIGH 
Audience concentration in Television (horizontal) 

Percentage: 77%

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Audience concentration in Radio (horizontal) 

Percentage: 74.45%

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 

Readership concentration in Newspapers (horizontal) 

Percentage: 75.45%

If within one country the major 4 Owners have a readership share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share above 50%. 

 SOURCES:

Print readership data: NDMS Sri Lanka (Sep-Dec) 2017 Kantar LMRB
Radio listenership data: RAP (Jan-Nov) 2017 Kantar LMRB
TV viewership data: PMS 2017 Kantar LMRB

Media Market Concentration

Result: No Data

This indicator aims to assess the horizontal ownership concentration based on market share which illustrates the economic power of companies/ groups. Concentration is measured for each media sector by adding the market shares of the four major owners in the sector. 

Although the Sri Lankan Department of Registrar of Companies provides some financial information for certain companies, no financial information is available on the media market as a whole. Therefore, market share for the companies studied remains unknown and media ownership concentration based on market share could not be computed. In accordance with the MOM methodology, if the country presents data on audience, but not on revenues/market share: the market share data is excluded from the analysis, i.e., the findings are based on the audience data alone and the revenue data is considered optional.

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Media market concentration in television (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the TV media sector. 
Percentage: not assessed
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media market concentration in radio (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the Radio media sector.    
Percentage: not assessed 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Media market concentration in newspapers (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the print sector.
Percentage: not assessed
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media market concentration in Internet Content Providers 
Percentage: not assessed   
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%.  

Regulatory Safeguards: Media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration ownership and/or control in the different media. 

Why?

The legal framework of Sri Lanka does not have overarching legislation specifically designed to regulate media concentration and monopolies. The various other laws that deal with anti-competitive behavior in the market do not define, specify or set benchmarks for ownership concentration. Therefore, the media legislation in Sri Lanka does not contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria such as the number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights and turnover/revenue, to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership in the sectors of Television, Print, Radio or Online.

Print

While the Sri Lanka Press Council (SLPC) Law No. 05 of 1973 for print media and the Sri Lanka Telecommunications (SLT) Act No. 25 of 1991 for electronic broadcasting have overarching objectives to ‘prevent media concentration and monopolies’, these Acts do not have explicit provisions detailing the steps to be taken in this regard. The Council is empowered to study developments relating to the monopolisation or concentration of ownership of newspapers, including a study of the ownership and the financial structure of newspapers, and suggest appropriate measures in this regard.  Apart from these provisions, there are no further references in the legislation that deal with monopolies and concentration of ownership. Notably, there is a lack in defining monopolies or setting limits in concentration, limiting shares of shareholders, rules governing horizontal and vertical control of newspapers companies and other related matters.

Television and Radio

In the case of electronic media, i.e. radio and television broadcasts, licenses have to be obtained at two stages: (i) from the respective licensing bodies, namely the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) to operate a broadcasting station; and (ii) from the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to operate frequencies and apparatus for broadcasting. Private broadcasters in radio and television have to obtain licences from the Minister of Mass Media, under Section 44 of the SLBC Act No. 05 of 1974 and Section 28 of the SLRC Act No. 06 of 1982, respectively.  There are, however, no provisions on monopolies or concentration of ownership in the SLBC or SLRC Acts, nor are these issues covered in the overarching objectives of these institutions.

The licences issued under Section 17 of the SLT Act are to set out terms and conditions subject to which the licence shall be granted.  These terms and conditions may include objectives set out in Section 4 of the SLT Act, which includes the object of maintaining and promoting effective competition between persons engaged in commercial activities connected with telecommunication.  Apart from this provision, there are no further directions in the legislation dealing with monopolies and concentration of ownership among companies engaging in such telecommunication services.

Competition Authority

The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Act No. 09 of 2003, which is the legislation effected for the promotion of effective competition and protection of consumers, has no reference to monopolies, concentration or mergers. The CAA, established under the Act, is authorised to investigate anti-competitive practices in Sri Lanka.  The definition of anti-competitive, as provided in Section 35 of the CAA Act, does not specifically refer to concentration within the market, but instead, states that it covers the course of conduct ‘which has or is likely to have the effect of restricting, distorting or preventing competition in connection with the production, supply or acquisition of goods in Sri Lanka or the supply or securing of services in Sri Lanka’.

There is also no reference in the present legislation to a relationship between the CAA and regulatory authorities such as TRC,  which raises concerns on the applicability of the provisions of the CAA Act on such media aspects. Further, it is necessary to note that the CAA Act is only applicable to ‘consumers’ which is interpreted as people who have obtained goods and services for some consideration. While there is consideration involved in terms of newspapers, it may not necessarily be the case for radio and television broadcasts.

The CAA Act focuses on quality in the sense of ensuring consumers have access to quality goods and services; rather than in terms of ensuring choice and variety of goods and services for consumers. The CAA being amended is, by itself, not sufficient to resolve this situation and therefore, there are calls for the CAA Act to be complemented with specific anti-monopoly legislation  to enable action against undue anti-competitive action. 

Regulatory Safeguard Score:
2 out of 20 = High Risk (10%).
1 = media-specific regulation/ authority
0.5 = competition-related regulation/ authority

TelevisionDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the Television sector.

 

  0

 

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

 0.5

  

Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

-Refusal of additional licences;

-Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

-Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

-divestiture.  

 

  0

  

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    

This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.    

Low risk: the relevant authority effectively uses its sanctioning powers in all the relevant cases

Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant

X
Total 

0.5

PrintDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the Print sector.

 

  0

 

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

 0.5

  

Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

-Refusal of additional licences;

-Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

-Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

-divestiture.  

 

  0

  

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    

This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the print media.    

Low risk: the relevant authority effectively uses its sanctioning powers in all the relevant cases

Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant

X
Total 

0.5

RadioDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the Radio sector.

 

  0

 

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

 0.5

  

Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

-Refusal of additional licences;

-Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

-Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

-divestiture.  

 

  0

  

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    

This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the radio media.    

Low risk: the relevant authority effectively uses its sanctioning powers in all the relevant cases

Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant

0
Total 

0.5

InternetDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the Online sector.    

 

  0

 

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

 0.5

  

Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

-Refusal of additional licences;

-Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

-Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

-divestiture.  

 

  

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    



This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the online media.    



Low risk: the relevant authority effectively uses its sanctioning powers in all the relevant cases

Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant X
High Risk: The relevant authority never uses its sanctioning powers
Total 

0.5

Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership across the different sectors – TV, print, audio, and any other relevant media – of the media industry. Cross-media concentration is measured by adding up the market shares of the Top 8 media companies. In this case, financial market shares were not always available. Cross-media ownership was instead calculated on the basis of weighted audience shares for the print, radio and TV market. Audience shares for online outlets were not available. The results are not an indicator for economic strength in different media sectors but rather for the potential influence on public opinion when considering all media types.

Disclaimer: We acknowledge that data of audience reach is difficult, to some extent impossible to compare. For example, how can one combine metrics like numbers of newspapers sold, clicks online and TV ratings – provided that the data is correct – in one consolidated indicator? In media studies and market research firms, this dilemma is being addressed but not solved yet. We are not pretending to have done so. However, our methodology is designed to indicate certain trends of cross-media concentration and to provide transparency and explanations of how we reached this conclusion.

Why?

We are unable to identify the top 8 firms with the highest revenue across all media sectors (TV, Radio, Newspapers and internet content providers) due to lack of financial data. Instead, this indicator is calculated based on audience shares and as such, the results presented are not an indicator of economic strength in different media sectors but rather for the potential influence on public opinion. 

MOM Team identified 8 major companies across television, radio and print sectors based on audience share. Almost all of the selected media owners have online editions. However, as of now, due to the lack of online audience data, we are unable to calculate their reach through online platforms. The actual cross-media audience share thus even exceeds the findings whenever media owners additionally also run online outlets. Therefore, the data provided might not show the full picture or could even be an underestimation of the real audience reach and potential influence on public opinion these owners might have.

Not all top 8 firms have activities across all sectors. 5 out of these 8 owners have activities in more than one media sector. The concentration in cross-media ownership in Sri Lanka is high as the top 3 owners in TV and Radio are the same. In addition the top 8 owners have an audience share of 81.47% which confirms the tendencies of cross-media ownership. 

  • The Capital Maharaja Organisation, owned by the Rajamahendran Family, is active in Television and Radio and is in top 4 in both of these markets. The company reaches to 29.19% of audience across Television and Radio sectors. We are unable to measure the online penetration as there is no market data for online media in Sri Lanka.
  • The Asia Broadcasting Corporation, owned by Rayynor Silva, is primarily active in Radio but has one very popular Television station. It is the market leader in Radio sector and has an audience share of 26.48% across radio and television.
  • Power House, co-owned by Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Fernando, is among top 4 in Television and radio markets with only few outlets which have wide audience reach. The company reaches an audience share of 23.44% across Television and Radio sectors. At the end of September 2018, the company launched into the print market with their print edition, but no data is yet available on their readership shares.
  • The Government, primarily under the control of the Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mr. Managala Samaraweera, is the only entity which is active across all four sectors: print, radio, television and online. The government media reach an audience of 22.04% across print, radio and television sectors.
  • Wijeya Newspapers, owned by Wijewardene family, is only active primarily in print and online sectors. 21.56% of readership share makes them a significant player even when looked across sectors. 
  • The EAP Broadcasting Company, has recently (in June 2018) been sold off to Ben Holdings, owned by Alexis Indrajit Lovells and Singapore-based Blue Summit Capital Holdings, which is a subsidiary of Portugal-based Pettigo Commercio Internacional LDA (a company related to Lycamobile) owned by Alirajah Subaskaran. EAP Broadcasting Company is primarily active in Television and Radio and has an audience share of 10.61% across these sectors.
  • ASSET Radio Broadcasting, owned by Nihal Seneviratne Epa, is only active in radio and has an audience share of 5.49%.
  • Upali Newspapers, owned by Welgama family, is only active in print sector and has an audience share of 4.57%.

Score: 3

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Percentage: 81.47%
If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share below 50% across the different media sectors.  If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have an audience share between 50% and 69% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share above 70% across the different media sectors.

META DATA:

The audience shares in print, TV and radio were weighted in accordance with media consumption habits in the country: print 45.7%, TV 87%, radio 43.40%. As the sum of these three exceed 100, i.e. is equal to 176% that is taken as the new universe. The sum of the audience shares of top8 owners is weighted in accordance with the new universe. 

SOURCES:

Radio listenership data: RAP (Jan-Nov) 2017 Kantar LMRB
Print readership data: NDMS Sri Lanka (Sep-Dec) 2017 Kantar LMRB
TV viewership data: PMS 2017 Kantar LMRB
MOM Cross-Media Ownership computation

Regulatory Safeguards: Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership between media types (press, TV, radio, internet). Given the diversity of thresholds or limits that exist among different countries with regard to ownership and/or control, 'high' should be assessed according to the standards of your country and in the light of the thresholds or limits imposed by domestic laws.

Why?

No regulatory safeguards exist in Sri Lanka to prevent cross-media ownership concentration. The media legislation contains no specific thresholds, based on objective criteria, such as number of licences, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue, to prevent a high degree of cross-ownership between the different media.

  • There is no specific law in Sri Lanka governing media ownership concentration, nor is there any definition provided for media ownership concentration in the existing media legislation.  Media-related legislation with provisions referring to monopolies and concentration do not elaborate on or explain the manner in which media concentration is to be assessed, nor is there any reference to aspects of vertical integration or cross-media ownership concentration. 
  • References to monopolies and competitive structures are only made briefly in the legislation governing the print and electronic media sources, without further clarifications or elaboration of these terms. There are no provisions specifically describing the method and criteria for assessing levels or types of media concentration.
  • There is no definition for concentration or monopolies in the general legislation dealing with anti-competitive practices, i.e. the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No. 09 of 2003.


Regulatory Safeguard Score:
0 out of 8 – High Risk (Regulation: 0%)

CROSS-MEDIA OWNERSHIPDescriptionYesNoNAMD

Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds, based on objective criteria, such as number of licences, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue, to prevent a high degree of cross-ownership between the different media?    

This indicator aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors.    

  0

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these thresholds and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media authority=1, competition authority=0.5)  

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

  0

Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

- Refusal of additional licences;

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors

- divestiture.

  0

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    



The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies provided by the regulation.    



Low risk: the relevant authority effectively uses its sanctioning powers in all the relevant cases


Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant cases

High risk: the relevant authority never uses its sanctioning powers

0

Can a high degree of cross-ownership between different media be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?    

For instance, cross-ownership can be prevented by comptetion law:

- by the mandatory intervention of a media authority in M&A cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

- by the possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the competition authority for reasons of media pluralism (or Public interest in general);

 Even though the law does not contain media-specific provisions - it does not exclude the media sector from its scope of application.

  0

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these rules and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)    

This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors via merger control/competition rules.   

  0

Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

Examples sanctioning/enforcement powers and remedies:

- blocking of a merger or acquisition;

- obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- must carryobligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture. 

  0

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    



The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies of the regulation.    



Low risk: the relevant authority effectively uses its sanctioning powers in all the relevant cases

Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant cases

High risk: the relevant authority never uses its sanctioning powers

0
Total (Mean of L-e and L-I sub-indicators)         0

Legal Assessment

Ownership Transparency

Result: Medium Risk

This indicator assesses the transparency of data about the political affiliations of media owners as ownership transparency is a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism.  

Why?

There is no obligation for media companies to disclose their ownership structures on their respective websites or printed publications. Most of the data related to ownership was obtained through the Department of Registrar of Companies (ROC).

There is currently no legal instrument in Sri Lanka that mandates for political actors to disclose their affiliations with media ownership. Similarly, there is no non-conflict of interest legislation that prohibits political actors from holding a political office and owning a media outlet. However, politicians and the general public alike have to register their media companies at the ROC.

According to the Companies Act No. 07 of 2007 of Sri Lanka, it is mandatory for all companies to be registered with the Department of Registrar of Companies (ROC). By registering with the ROC, the companies agree to disclose information on ownership, submit the names of the board members annually through Form 15 (Annual Returns) and file them at the ROC for public viewing. As such, information pertaining to ownership of media companies are available at the ROC and can be accessed by the general public upon payment.

While the files of the state-owned print company, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL/Lake House), and one of the state-owned broadcasting companies, ITN (Independent Television Network Limited), were available at the ROC, data relating to the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and the  Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) were not available at the ROC. This is because the SLRC and SLBC were created through Acts of Parliament and therefore, are not mandated to be registered with the ROC. Meanwhile, ANCL and ITN were initially privately owned entities which were later nationalised. At the time of their incorporation, both ITN and Lake House were private limited liability companies founded by two families that are related: the Wickremesinghe Family (Shan Wickremesinghe) and the Wijewardene Family (D.R. Wijewardene) respectively.

Despite the availability of files at the ROC, access to information is often costly, time-consuming, cumbersome and occasionally, not up-to-date. Certain companies had not filed an annual return in nearly a decade. Moreover, the ROC does not maintain an online database with the details of company files. Therefore, anyone (both in Sri Lanka and abroad) interested in gathering information on the ownership of a company has to physically travel to the ROC located in Colombo. In addition, the companies registered with the ROC are not mandated by the Companies Act to provide financial statements, market shares or audience numbers.

In instances where ownership structures were available at the ROC, the MOM team has coded the company’s transparency rank as Data Publicly Available. Even though data was acquired from the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media regarding the ownership of online media outlets, the data that was obtained was only from 2012 and did not detail the ownership of the outlets.

The MOM team also invited media owners to partake in an exercise of transparency by requesting for information during the research period of July–October. MOM investigated a sample of 46 media outlets, 19 media companies and 23 individual owners. The findings are given below:

  • Passive Transparency means that upon request, ownership data is easily available from the company/ from a channel.  9 media outlets, 3 media companies and 9 individual owners were ranked as Passively Transparent, i.e. 23.86 % of the entire sample. Most of these companies, outlets and owners provided detailed replies to MOM information requests.
  • Data publicly available means ownership data is easily available from other sources, e. g. public registries etc. 35 media outlets, 16 companies and 14 individual owners were ranked as Data Publicly Available, i.e. even if the websites didn’t inform the public of the owners, details could be found in the Department of Registrar of Companies. This transparency ranking was used in 73.86% of cases.
  • Data unavailable means ownership data is not publicly available; company/channel denies the release of information or does not respond; no public record exists. 2.27% of the entire sample was ranked as Data unavailable. In 2 media outlets data was unavailable. These were related to Online outlets, namely, Gossip Lanka News and Lanka C News.
  • MOM Information Requests were sent out by registered mail and email and were followed up with further emails during the course of the research. However, only 03 companies have provided detailed replies to our requests in written form, via email or through phone calls. These companies are: Express Newspaper (Ceylon) (Pvt) Limited, ASK Media (Pvt) Limited and Wijeya Newspapers Limited.
LOWMEDIUMHIGH

How would you assess the transparency and accessibility of data about the media ownership?

Active Transparency – 0%
Passive Transparency – 23.86%
Data Publicly Available – 73.86%
Data Unavailable – 2.27%
Active Disguise - 0%

Data on media owners as well as their political affiliations is publicly available and transparent.

(Active Transparency)

Code if that applies to > 75% of the sample

Data of media owners and their political affiliations are disclosed based on investigations of journalists and media activists or upon request.

(Passive Transparency, Publicly Available)

Code if that applies > 50% of the sample. 

Data on political affiliations of media owners are not easily accessible by the public and investigative journalists of activists are not successful in disclosing these data.

(Data Unavailable, Active Disguise)

Code if data is available for < 50% of the sample 


SOURCES:

Companies Act, No.07 of 2007 Accessed on 22 October 2018

Regulatory Safeguards: Ownership Transparency

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of transparency and disclosure provisions with regard to media ownership and/or control.

Why?

  • State media institutions are bound by the measures established through the laws that set up the media institution,  and reporting measures discussed in Section 1.2(k). The laws in this regard usually have details on the constitution of the boards, sources and reporting of finances. Further, investments are mainly effected through budgetary allocations made by the Parliament which is reported in publications titled ‘Budget Estimates’ released by the Ministry of Finance on an annual basis. Budgetary and financial information on state media is made available online, although the information is highly technical and may not be easily grasped by the general public. Budgetary information is published in Budget Estimates released by the Ministry of Finance prior to the Budget Speech; and audited financial reports are published on the Auditor General’s website (albeit not up-to-date).
  •  Private media companies are relatively less transparent with regard to details on ownership, investment and revenue sources.  All private companies are required to register with the Department of Registrar of Companies (ROC) and therefore, are regulated by provisions of the Companies Act No. 07 of 2007.  Private media companies have to provide details of directors and shareholders of the relevant media company, and these details are to be maintained in a share register at the (ROC) which is available for public perusal. While the share register can be viewed by the public, it may not be easily accessible, as it is only located at the ROC, and interested parties have to request for approval to view the register for a fee of LKR 1150 (USD 6.69).  Further, there is no requirement for private media companies to disclose investment and revenue sources.
  • There is a small window for transparency in the case of print media companies, as there is an additional reporting function to the Sri Lanka Press Council (SLPC). All newspapers have to disclose details of the proprietor, publisher, editor and working journalists of the newspapers on an annual basis (as per the Press Council (General) Regulations 1973).  Any changes during the year to the proprietor and editor of a newspaper also has to be recorded within 14 days of taking on the position and has to register their names as proprietor or editor with the Council.  This information may provide a means of understanding ownership of the relevant newspaper publications.
  •  All public corporations are subject to the provisions of the RTI (Right to Information) Act which came into effect in 2016. There is, however, a level of reluctance by certain public corporations to proactively disclose information and respond to RTI requests. This is a systemic change that needs to take place in Sri Lanka, as public corporations have operated in a culture of secrecy in the past, and such reforms would require time and adjustments.

Regulatory Safeguard Score:
8 out of 20 – High Risk (Regulation 40%)

Transparency ProvisionsDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their website or in records/documents that are accessible to the public?     The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for transparency towards the citizens, the users and the public in general. 0.5
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to report (changes in) ownership structures to public authorities (such as the media authority)?     The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for accountability and transparency towards public authorities.    0.5
Is there an obligation by national law to disclose relevant information after every change in ownership structure?     This question aims at assessing if the law provides rules on the public availability of accurate and up-to-date data on media ownership. This is a condition for an effective transparency.     0.5
Are there any sanctions in case of non-respect of disclosure obligations?     This question aims at assessing if the law on media ownership transparency can be enforced through the application of sanctions.      0
Do the obligations ensure that the public knows which legal or natural person effectively owns or controls the media company?    

This question aim at assessing the effectiveness of the laws that deal with media ownership transparency and if they succeed in disclosing the real owners of the media outlets.    

Low Risk: All the effective owners are known by the public
Medium Risk: some owners are still unknown0.5
High Risk: Effective owners are still hidden
Total2

Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation Act, No. 37 of 1966 Accessed on 22 October 2018
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Act, No. 6 of 1982 Accessed on 22 October 2018
Associated Newspapers Of Ceylon Limited, Act No. 35 of 1981 Accessed on 22 October 2018
Regulation 6 of Gazette No. 63/5 of 12th June 1973 – Press Council (General) Regulations Accessed on 22 October 2018
Legal Assessment

(Political) Control Over Media Outlets and Distribution Networks

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the risk of political affiliations and control over media and distribution networks. It also assesses the level of discrimination by politically affiliated media distribution networks. Discriminatory actions would for example include unfavourable pricing and posing barriers to media accessing the distribution channel. Political Affiliations means that the media outlet or company belongs to a party, a partisan group, a party leader or a clearly partisan person.

Why?

The highest risk is in print where the owners with political affiliations have 79.4% of readership share. In Television media owners with known political affiliations have an audience of 54.8% which indicates a high risk. In radio the risk is medium, as the media owners with known political affiliations reach of 45.59% of listener. However, the risk of political control over distribution networks in print is assessed as low, whereas political control over distribution networks in radio and television are assessed as high risk, due to close proximity to the executive power and lack of independent and transparent procedures in license distribution.

The line between politics and media is not always detectable.  Conflicts of interests are a commonplace. The Sri Lankan laws do not prohibit individuals holding political office to own media. Nor do they require owners to disclose their political affiliations when registering a media company. Like in other countries, proxy owners, often close or extended family members, are used to maintain influence over media and other businesses. For businesses to remain afloat or to sustain some profitability in the given environment, owners are encouraged to entertain close ties with the political powers, which for media might mean compromising on unbiased coverage of socio-economic and political affairs. Media is a lucrative tool for both political and business elite to expand their influence and as such these are not always publicly traceable by hard evidence. Some categories are used to define political affiliations, e.g. direct or indirect control of media by individuals holding political office, but these show only a fraction of how politics can intermingle with media and business in general.

In Sri Lanka the relationship between politics and the media is quite often direct control through direct ownership, as there is no regulation preventing that from happening. However, this is not always the case. Notably, political control can be established via intermediaries, such as immediate family members who own shares in media companies. Eight media owners out of the 23 investigated have known political affiliations. Therefore, this runs the risk of politically affiliated individuals using media to serve their political interests. Nonetheless, there have been instances where the outlet’s political affiliations have not influenced its content. For instance, the Daily Mirror newspaper, which is owned by the Wijewardene Family and has family ties with the incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has on occasion voiced its criticism against the prime minister’s action. Therefore, the extent to which political links influence media coverage, remains yet to be explored through content analysis. 

For more read 'Greater stake, greater say?'

Political affiliations of media owners:

  • Rayynor Silva (Hiru TV, Hiru FM, Shaa FM, Gold FM, Sun FM, Sooriyan FM) – serves as the Chairperson of Asia Broadcasting Corporation (Pvt) Limited, which is considered to be the largest radio network in Sri Lanka. His brother, Duminda Silva, is a former Member of Parliament (MP), who was sentenced to death for the murder of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.
  • Varuni Amunugama Fernando (Derana TV, Derana FM, Ada Derana) – her father, Sarath Amunugama, presently serves as the Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development and Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage.
  • Wijewardene family (Wijeya Newspapers) – the Chairperson at Wijeya Newspapers, Ranjit Wijewardene, is the uncle of the incumbent Prime Minister and Leader of the United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe. Concurrently, Ranjit Wijewardene’s son Ruwan Wijewardene serves as the current State Minister of Defence.
  • Welgama Family (Upali Newspapers) – Parliamentary Member Kumara Welgama is the brother of Nimal Welgama, who serves as the Managing Director at Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Limited and is married to Lakmani Welgama, who holds 90.52 percent of the company.
  • Alles Family (Ceylon Newspapers) – Tiran Alles is the founder and Chairperson of Ceylon Newspapers (Pvt) Limited. He owns 49.99% of individual shares of the company. Tiran is a former parliamentarian from the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
  • Sumathipala Family (Lakbima) – The Sumathipala Family own and operate Lakbima Newpapers. Thilanga Sumathipala, is a Parliamentarian from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). He founded Sumathi Newspapers (Pvt) Limited in 1994, renamed as Lakbima Newspapers (Pvt) Limited in 2008. He has since resigned from the board of Lakbima Newspapers (Pvt) Limited to further his political career.
  • Saravanapavan Family (Uthayan) – Eswarapatham Saravanapavan, also referred to as E. Saravanapavan, is the founding Chairperson of New Uthayan Publication (Pvt) Limited. He is also a Member of Parliament from the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK).
  • The State (Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), Independent Television Network (ITN), Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL)) – All institutions come under the purview of the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media. Accordingly, the current framework grants excessive powers of appointment and removal of board members to the Ministry, especially over regulatory bodies such as the SLRC and SLBC. The lack of specification of qualifications and criteria for appointment made under its respective Acts could enable appointments to become politicised.
Media OwnersTelevision Audience ShareRadio Audience SharePrint Readership Share
Rayynor Silva18.1%: Hiru TV (18.1%)24.72%: Hiru FM (10.31%), Sooryian FM (9.47%), Shaa FM (3.93%), Gold FM (0.69%), Sun FM (0.32%)
Varuni Amunugama Fernando19.8%: Derana TV (19.5%), Ada Derana 24/7 (0.3%)14.31%: FM Derana (14.31%)
Wijewardene family 47.18%: Irida Lankadeepa (27.15%), Lankadeepa (5.26%), Wijeya (5.95%) Sirikatha (3.47%), Sunday Times (1.27%), Ada (1.19%), Vijey (1.03%), Daily Mirror (0.55%), Daily FT (0.08%), Weekend FT (0.14%), Tharunaya (0.31%) Deshaya Sunday (0.22%), Tamil Mirror (0.17%), Pariganaka (0.23%), LW (0.07%), GO (0.05%), Hi! (0.02%), Easy Guide (0.02%)
Welgama family 10%:Divaina Sunday (6.88%), Divaina Daily (1.25%), Sunday Island (0.57%), The Island (0.13%), Nawayliya (0.27%), Vidusara (0.90%)
Alles family 8.44%: Mawbima Sunday (7.09%), Mawbima Daily (0.87%), Ceylon Today Sunday edition (0.37%), Ceylon Today (0.11%)
Sumathipala family 2.7%: Lakbima (2.56%), Regina (0.14%)
Saranapavan family 1.25%: Uthayan (1.01%), Sudar Oli Sunday edition (0.13%), Sudar Oli daily (0.11%)
The State16.9%: SLRC and ITN: Rupavahini (4.3%), Eye/Nethra (3.2%), ITN (7%), Vasantham TV (2.4%)  6.56%: City FM (0.20%), National Service (1.31%), National Commercial Service (0.63%), Radio Sri Lanka (0.12%), Vidula (0.01%), Yal FM (0.00%), Rajarata (0.09%), Ruhuna (0.14%), Uva (0.05%), Wayamba (0.01%), Kandurata (0.1%), Thendral (0.41%), Pirei (0.03%), Thesiya (1.62%), ITN FM (0.48%), Vasantham FM (1.36%)9.83%: ANCL (Lake House) – Sunday Observer (2.18%), Silumina (1.92%), Dinamina (0.73%), Tharuni (1.71%), Daily News (0.57%), Thinakaran (0.27%), Thinakaran Vaaramanjari (0.36%), Arogya (0.11%), Sarasawiya (0.17%), Budusarana (0.89%), Manchu (0.31%), Subasetha (0.21%), Sithmina (0.14%), Mihithuru (0.17%), Vanna Vaanavil (0.09%)
TOTAL54.8%45.59%79.4%
LOWMEDIUMHIGH
POLITICISATION OF MEDIA OUTLETS    

What is the share of TV media owned by politically affiliated entities?

Percentage: 54.8%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.     The media having <50% - >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.  The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    

What is the share of Radio channels owned by politically affiliated entities?

Percentage: 45.59%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having <50% - >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.   

What is the share of Newspapers owned by politically affiliated entities?

Percentage: 79.4%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having <50% - >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. 

Political control over media distribution networks

The overall level of (political) control over media outlets and distribution networks was assessed as a high risk to media pluralism. A leading distribution network is defined as a network covering more than 15% of the national market.

Result: High Risk

Why?

The distribution network for print publications consists of a number of independent newspaper agencies (and sub agencies) located throughout the country that have been functioning for several years. These agencies are not exclusive to specific newspaper publications, instead they are shared among all newspaper companies, and work on a commission or subscription basis. Radio and TV Networks distribution rely on the frequencies that are allocated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), which is a governmental body. The TRC has faced criticisms for making politicised appointments to the commission. For instance, the current Chairperson, Udaya Seneviratne, also serves as the Presidential Secretary. It also has reportedly executed orders sent by those high up the chain of command to shut down transmitters, block websites and issue licenses.

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
How would you assess the conduct of the leading distribution networks for print media? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.     At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.     All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading radio distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.     At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.     All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading television distribution networks? 
Leading distribution, are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions. At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.  All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions. 

Radio listenership data: RAP (Jan-Nov) 2017 Kantar LMRB
TV viewership data: PMS 2017 Kantar LMRB
Print readership data: NDMS Sri Lanka (Sep-Dec) 2017 Kantar LMRB

(Political) Control Over Media Funding

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the influence of the state on the functioning of the media market, focusing particularly on the risk of discrimination in the distribution of state advertisements. The discrimination can be reflected in favouritism towards political parties or affiliates of political parties in the government, or in penalisation of media criticising the government. State advertising should be understood as any advertising paid by governments (national, regional, local) and state-owned institutions and companies.

Why?

There are no rules or guidelines to ensure that state advertising is fairly distributed based on circulation figures, nor are there any mechanisms in place to monitor the distribution of state advertising. According to the report published in 2016 by the Secretariat for Media Reforms on Rebuilding Public Trust: An Assessment on the Media Industry and Profession in Sri Lanka, state advertising accounts for almost 30% of the total advertising within the media industry, although the figure can vary from year to year. The report shows that the state discriminates in terms of its advertising patronage with state-owned print and broadcasting houses receiving an assured volume of state advertising, irrespective of circulation or audience ratings.

Moreover, there were also concerns about successive governments using state advertising as a means of influencing private owned media, by threatening to cut-off state advertising (see Legal Assessment). There have also been instances where politicians have utilised public funds allocated to state agencies to promote their political campaigns or to discriminate against others. For instance, the Fourth Report of the Committee on Public Enterprises revealed that during the 2015 presidential election, ITN had televised more advertisements than that of the scheduled election advertisements on behalf of a particular presidential candidate. Additionally, ITN had charged double the amount from one candidate than from the other who had contested in the presidential election.

Overall, the non-availability of data or lack of transparency to substantiate the distribution of state advertising in the market or its regulatory requirements creates a HIGH RISK over the influence of state funding in the media market. 

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Is the state advertising distributed to media proportionately to their audience share? No Data
State advertising is distributed to the media relatively proportionately to the audience shares of media. State advertising is distributed disproportionately (in terms of audience share) to the media.State advertising is distributed exclusively to few media outlets, which do not cover al major media outlets in the country. 
How would you assess the rules of distribution of state advertising?    
State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on transparent rules.     State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on a set of rules but it is unclear whether they are transparent.     There are no rules regarding distribution of state advertising to media outlets or these.   
IMPORTANCE OF STATE ADVERTISING    

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall TV / Radio / Print/ online advertising market? 

VALUE: No Data

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.    Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.     Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.

Regulatory Safeguards: Net neutrality

Result: HIGH RISK

Network neutrality is the principle that all data on networks should be treated equally by not discriminating or charging differently in terms of users, content, sites or applications. Protecting net neutrality is essential to safeguarding media diversity because it guarantees equal ability to access and disseminate information, opinions, perspectives, etc. online, which is essential to media diversity. This indicator aims to capture the landscape of legal regulation of net neutrality as well as the specific regulatory mechanisms that address net neutrality.

Why?

This indicator assesses a high risk to media pluralism in Sri Lanka as there are no laws explicitly referring to net neutrality as well as specific regulatory mechanisms that address net neutrality.

While the law does not explicitly define net neutrality, Section 17 in the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act No. 25 of 1991 states, the “conditions prohibiting an operator from showing preference to, or from exercising discrimination against a particular person, or persons of any class or description as respects any service provided, connection made or permission given...”. This can be broadly interpreted as a marginal definition of net neutrality provided by the partial laws that exist within Sri Lanka’s framework in this regard. Moreover, the Act on The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) provides the respective conditions on the licences granted to Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Thus, the TRC can take action to revoke licences if there is a failure on the part of ISPs to comply with such conditions included in their licences. This may be interpreted as a means of ensuring that ISPs treat all online content equally and without discrimination.

Further, Article 14 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka embodies the concept of ‘freedom of speech and expression including publication’. If interpreted broadly, this provision can be extended as an argument for addressing net neutrality. However, the lack of specific provisions dealing with the regulation of the internet and discussions stating that this is a wholly unregulated area, indicates that this issue has not been addressed in national law.

Nevertheless, there have been various instances of providers acting contrary to the principles of net neutrality. For instance, in May 2018, the Wijeya Newspapers Group announced a partnership with Airtel, which allowed the online editions of the Daily Mirror, Lankadeepa and Tamil Mirror to be freely accessible to all Airtel subscribers, thereby officially prioritising and favouring traffic to selected news websites.

Score: 3 out of 11 – High Risk (27.3 %) 

Transparency ProvisionsDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their website or in records/documents that are accessible to the public?    This question aims to determine whether net neutrality is regulated by domestic law in any way; it also aims to reflect any agreement between countries, as in the EU and countries that are part of the Council of Europe.0.5
Does national law contain norms that prohibit the blocking of websites or content online?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent blocking, one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework0.5
Does national law contain norms that prohibit throttling of services or content provided online?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent throttling, one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework   0.5
Does national law contain norms that prohibit zero-rating and/or paid prioritiszation?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent zero-rating (of which paid prioritiszation is a common form), one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework 0.5
Where net neutrality is protected by law, does the legal framework recognize any exceptions, e.g. for reasonable network management?This question establishes when reasonable limits are placed on net neutrality protections versus other limits that may undermine its effectiveness.0.5
Norms that prohibit or limit zero-rating are successfully implemented: Paid prioritisation does not take place.This question aims to flesh out the extent to which paid prioritisation occurs in practice despite its prohibition in law; a number of countries with ostensibly strong zero-rating protections experience this phenomenon. This indicator may shed light on the degree of difference between the law and practices on the groundX
Norms that prohibit or limit zero-rating are successfully implemented: No other forms of zero-rating take place.Same as aboveX
Norms are successfully implemented: Blocking and/or throttling do not take place.This question seeks to determine how the legal framework in place to protect net neutrality operates in practice with respect to blocking and throttling 0
Are there regulatory or other entities charged with monitoring and enforcing net neutrality protections?This question highlights whether there are authorities charged with enforcing net neutrality protections 0.5
Have sanctions been imposed for violations of net neutrality protections where these exist?This question may illustrate the extent to which violations of net neutrality norms are taken seriously as a matter of rule of law and political willX
Are the enforcement mechanisms in place to identify and respond to net neutrality violations viewed as effective?This question shows the extent to which net neutrality norms actually achieve their goals X
Total (Mean of L-e und L-I sub-indicators)

3 / 27.3%

Meta Data There is insufficient evidence to make a definite assessment in this regard. Net neutrality is not protected by law, and therefore, certain questions are not applicable. Provisions require broad interpretation. Examples are sourced through newspaper articles. 

Legal Assessment

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    Verité Research
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