News First, also known as News1st, is a news service provider under The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited. It operates in three mediums – digital, television and radio. The digital medium initially commenced as ethalaya.com on 10 October 2007. However, the name was later changed to newsfirst.lk. Although the website primarily catered to a Sinhala-speaking readership, it currently caters to speakers of Sinhala, Tamil and English. News content on the website is published as both text and video. The recorded content is telecasted on the channels that are operated by MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited from 5:55 am to midnight on a daily basis. Apart from disseminating local news, the website features international news, business, sports and entertainment as well.
Media Companies / Groups
The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited
MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited is a subsidiary of one of Sri Lanka's largest conglomerates, The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited. The Capital Maharaja and its subsidiary companies have complex ownership structures. As per the structure of MTV Channels (Pvt) Limited, 10 companies own shares in the company. These are: MBC Networks (Pvt) Limited (35.34%), Vision Link (Pvt) Limited (20.83%), S-Lon Industrial Plastics (14.48%), Capital Holdings (12.95%), Jones Overseas (Pvt) Limited (5.45%), Stradbroke INV (Pvt) Limited (3.80%), Business Investments (Pvt) Limited (3.40%), The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited (2.27%), Jones Land (Pvt) Limited (1.29%) and Dawson Capital (Pvt) Limited (0.16%). In turn, all of these companies appear as shareholders in their ownership structures, each part- owning the other.
For example, MBC Networks is owned by Capital Holdings (94.56%) and Vision Link (5.43%). However, Vision Link is owned by Jones Overseas (71.13%) and Capital Holdings (28.6%). Meanwhile, Jones Overseas is also owned by Capital Holdings (43.66%), Harrisons Colombo Limited (36.42%), The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited (19.92%) and R. Rajamahendran (0.00003%); Harrisons Colombo Limited is owned by S-Lon Lanka (99.99%); S-Lon Lanka is owned by Vision Link (53.46%) and S-Lon Industrial Plastics (46.50%); S-Lon Industrial Plastics is owned by Vision Link (84.2%) and Capital Holdings (15.79%). In total, 18 companies within the Maharaja Organisation were researched. All of these companies have Capital Holdings as a shareholder at some level in their ownership structures. Capital Holdings (Pvt) Limited is directly owned by the Rajamahendrans, i.e. Rajandram Rajamahendran (79.95%) and his son Sashidharan Rajamahendran (20.05%). The calculations of shares indicate that the Rajamahendran family has overall ownership over all these companies.
Affiliated Interests Founder
Rajandram Maharaja and Rajandram Rajamahendran are the founders of Sirasa TV, and the sons of Sinnathamby Rajandram, one of the founders of The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited. Rajandram Maharaja was married to Padma Maharaja, an enterprising figure who had her own fashion label called 'Vati' and also served on the board of Hilton Hotel. She passed away in 2016. Rajandram Rajamahendran is married to Cannice Rajamahendran. She is the CEO of Rumours salon, a company under the organisation. While both brothers took over the organisation, Rajandram Maharaja eventually retired. In 2018, Rajandram Rajamahendran's son, Sashidharan Rajamahendran, was appointed as Managing Director of the organisation. Meanwhile, Rajamahendran's daughter, Anjali Rajamahendran, is a Group Director in the organisation. Pradeep Maharaja, the son of Rajandram Maharaja and Padma Maharaja, is also a Group Director in the organisation. In 2015, Pradeep was appointed to the board of directors at the Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka (MBSL).
Affiliated Interests Ceo
Susara Dinal – serves as the CEO of MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited. Previously, he held the post of Channel Head at Sirasa TV. He also contested for the Western Provincial Council Polls from the Gampaha District in 2014.
Affiliated Interests Editor-In-Chief
Suranga Senanyake is the Channel Head for News First
Affiliated Interests other important people
Chevaan Daniel – is the Group Director who oversees News First. He has previously served as a Consultant at NBC News in the US. Following the attack at the premises of MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited and MBC Networks (Pvt) Limited in 2009, Chevaan was interviewed by CNN. Subsequently, then Secretary of Defense Gotabaya Rajapaksa had reportedly called for Chevaan’s arrest for having spoken to CNN regarding the incident.
Revenue (in Mill. $)
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
Advertising (in % of total funding)
The official website of News First operates as a news portal and as such, does not provide details with regards to the operational structure of the digital medium. The profile on News First was written by the MOM team after contacting the News First division. Information with regards to the ownership structure was gathered from the Department of Registrar of Companies.