The weekly Irida (Sunday) Lankadeepa and its daily edition, Lankadeepa, are published by Wijeya Newspapers Limited, a media conglomerate owned and managed by Ranjit Wijewardene. Irida Lankadeepa is the most read newspaper in the country with the readership of 27.15 percent, the daily edition of Lankadeepa reaches an audience of 5.26 percent. The papers primarily focus on domestic issues such as local politics, economics, business, sports and entertainment in their coverage. While Irida Lankadeepa and Lankadeepa are Wijeya's flagship Sinhala language publications, Tharunya, Wijeya, Bilindu, Ada, and Sirisetha also cater to a Sinhala-speaking readership. Additionally, Lankadeepa’s sister publication Vijay caters to a Tamil-speaking readership, while Daily Mirror, the Sunday Times and Daily Financial Times (Daily FT) cater to an English-speaking readership.
Media Companies / Groups
Wijeya Newspapers Limited
The Wijewardene family is the majority of shareholder of Wijeya Newspapers Limited. Ranjit Wijewardene, Sujan Wijewardene, Ruwan Wijewardene, Irushi Neela Bulathsinhala and Ranjini Wijewardene collectively own 99.98 percent of the company. Meanwhile, Sarathi Limited, a company affiliated with the Wijeya Group of Companies, also holds shares at Wijeya Newspapers Limited. Besides members of the Wijewardene family, Anandi Balasingham owns a lesser percentage of shares at Wijeya Newspapers Limited. However, Anandi Balasingham serves as the Estate Administrator for Sarathi Limited which, as stated above, is affiliated with the Wijeya Group of Companies.
Voting rights have been assigned based on the shares held by an individual or company. Therefore, the voting rights are as follows: Ranjith Wijewardena – 89.99%, Sujan Wijewardene – 10%, Ruwan Wijewardene – 0.0002%, Irushi Neela Bulathsinhala – 0.0002%, Ranjini Neela Wijewardene – 0.0002%, Sarathi Limited – 0.0002%, Anandi Balasingham – 0.0002%
1986 – Irida (Sunday) Lankadeepa / 1991 – Lankadeepa (daily)
Affiliated Interests Founder
Ranjit Sujiva Wijewardene, also referred to as Ranjit Wijewardene, is the son of Sri Lankan media proprietor D.R. Wijewardene, who founded the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL, also known as Lake House) in 1926, prior to its nationalisation under Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s government in 1973. Ranjit serves as the founding Chairperson and majority shareholder of Wijeya Newspapers Limited. Although the company was formed in 1979 under the name of Wijeya Publications Limited, it started publishing the weekly Irida Lankadeepa newspaper in 1986, and shortly afterwards, the daily Lankadeepa newspaper in 1991. Ranjit also holds 0.57 percent of shares at the ANCL. In addition to holding the position of a Chairperson at Wijeya Newspapers Limited, Ranjith also serves as the Chairperson and Managing Director at Lake House Printers & Publishers Ltd., Chairperson at Lake House Bookshop Pvt Ltd., Chairperson at LH Plantations Pvt Ltd., Chairperson at Ranweli Holiday Village Ltd., Chairperson at Sarathi Ltd., Chairperson at Stamford Lake (Pvt) Ltd., Chairperson at Wijeya Graphics Pvt Ltd., and President at the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka. Ranjith is also on the Board of Directors at Freudenberg & Co. (Ceylon) Ltd. and R.S. Printek Pvt Ltd.
Upali Wijewardene, the founder of Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Limited, is Ranjit’s cousin. Meanwhile, the incumbent Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and the Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe is Ranjit’s nephew.
Ranjit Wijeywardene married Ranjini Neela Senanayake, the granddaughter of D.S. Senanayake who served as the first Prime Minister of Ceylon. Other notable family members from Ranjini's family include Dudley Senanayake (uncle) the second Prime Minister of Ceylon, and Rukman Senanayake, a former Member of Parliament. Ranjit has three children, including current State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene, and Sujan Wijewardene, who is the Executive Director of Lake House Printers and Publishers Limited, a company affiliated with the Wijewardene Group.
Affiliated Interests Ceo
Ranjit Sujiva Wijewardene is the Chaiperson of Wijeya Newspapers Limited, the publisher of Lankadeepa. See above for more.
Affiliated Interests Editor-In-Chief
Ariyananda Dombagahawatta – is currently the Chief Editor for the weekly Irida Lankadeepa. In addition, Ariyananda serves as a board member at the Sri Lanka Press Council, a body that has been disputed by the press (LINK), which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media. In 2009, members of the Free Media Movement, Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka and the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) collectively demanded the removal of Dombagahawatta from the council, alleging that he had been politically appointed. Dombagahawatta’s political affiliations with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa have been questioned in press publications. On the other hand, Ariyananda has been recognised with awards in the field of journalism.
Siri Ranasinghe – the chief editor at Lankadeepa (daily) and concurrently serves as a Director at Wijeya Newspapers Limited as well as a Board Member at Press Complaints Commission Sri Lanka. In addition, Siri is credited as one of the initiators of the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka. Siri later served as the President of the Editors’ Guild on numerous occasions. With regards to Lankadeepa, he is accredited with resurrecting the newspaper in 1986 as Irida Lankadeepa. Previously, Siri served as a journalist for Dinamina.
Affiliated Interests other important people
Premakeerthi Ranathunga – Associate Editor at Irida Lankadeepa
P.B. Elangasingha and Prasanna Sanjeewa Thennakoon – Deputy Editors at Irida Lankadeepa
Shantha Kumara Vithana – Features Editor at Irida Lankadeepa
Indrani Peiris and A.A. Lionel Perera – Associate Editors at Lankadeepa
Chandrika Wijesundara – Associated Editor at Lankadeepa
U. Hennayaka – Deputy Editor (Features) at Lankadeepa
W.G. Goonarathne – Provincial Editor at Lankadeepa
Daminda Wijesuriya – Sports Editor at Lankadeepa
Samantha Yahampath – Features Editor at Lankadeepa
Gamini Abeysekara – Pictures Editor at Lankadeepa
Revenue (in Mill. $)
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
Advertising (in % of total funding)
The official websites of Lankadeepa and Wijeya Newspapers Limited do not provide any details about its founder, board of directors or its organisational structure. As such, publicly available secondary sources were referenced. Although, many publicly available secondary sources provide adequate information on the newspaper, in certain instances the information gathered was conflicting. For instance, the official designation of Sujan Wijewardene is stated in three different forms as Deputy Chairman, CEO and Director at Wijeya Newspapers Limited. #
While the Media Ownership Monitor research team reached out to Wijeya Newspapers Limited by formally requesting for the company’s information on 20 July 2018, the company responded to the aforementioned request on 17 August 2018. From the response received, the team was unable to use the market share provided (75%) as the team did not have access to the figures used to arrive at this percentage. However, information on the organisational structure was cited from the response provided by the company as well as from the Department of Registrar of Companies. Readership data was obtained from the Kantar Lanka Market Research Bureau (LMRB) for the year 2017.