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HOME > 22nd JAMCO Online International Symposium > Internet Usage Among TV Stations : A Case Study of Independent Television Network (ITN) In Sri Lanka

JAMCO Online International Symposium

22nd JAMCO Online International Symposium

March to December, 2014

The Internet and TV Stations in the Asia-Pacific Region

Internet Usage Among TV Stations :
A Case Study of Independent Television Network (ITN) In Sri Lanka

Mohamed Shareef ASEES (PhD)
Lecturer (visiting) Department of Political Science and Public Policy University of Colombo - Sri Lanka


The purpose of this article is to explore how the Internet usage has become significant among TV stations in Sri Lanka. A special focus will be given to the Independent Television Network (ITN), which was the first and foremost TV station in Sri Lanka. It has been ten years since the ITN has started to use the Internet to broadcast some of its programs (news, dramas, music and sports) all over the world in three languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English. This research covers three major topics, namely: Emergence of Internet usage among TV stations in Sri Lanka, Internet usage by ITN and simultaneous retransmissions for selected TV stations in Sri Lanka. It is reported that there are 44 registered TV channels in Sri Lanka, most of them broadcast their programs via internet either online or as recorded version. It is noted that a large number of audiences (approximately 3 million) watch Sri Lankan TV channels via the Internet abroad. One of the key findings of this research is that although the ITN use the Internet to broadcast some of its programs, due to lack of technical devices and lack of administrative systems / management it could not broadcast its entire TV programs.

*(Key words: Internet usage, Independent Television Network (ITN), and TV programs)

1. Introduction

Internet television is the digital distribution of television content via the Internet. It covers the delivery of television shows and other video content over the Internet by video streaming technology. Internet television has become very popular in many countries such as USA, UK, Japan, Korea, China, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Ireland, India, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Internet television allows the users to choose the content or the television show they want to watch from an archive of content or from a channel directory. The two forms of viewing Internet television are streaming the content directly to a media player or simply downloading the media to the user’s computer. The above software or websites are essential for major television broadcasters. For example, the BBC iPlayer*1 brings more than one million videos per week. When the first episode of the drama "Apprentice" was made available on the BBC iPlayer, it was so popular and it took over three to five percent of the UK’s Internet traffic.

Availability of Internet television content continues to grow. As an example, in Canada there are more than 600 TV shows available for free streaming, including several major titles like the "Survivor" and the "Daily Show with Jon Stewart". Every night, the use of on-demand television peaks at around 10 pm. Many of such contents are provided in several different formats and qualities so that the service can be viewed on different devices. Some services now offer a HD (High-Definition) service alongside their SD (Standard-Definition), which can be viewed from devices with HD screen. Prior to 2006, most catch-up or follow-up services used Peer to Peer (P2P)*2 networking, in which users downloaded an application where data would be shared between the users. Now, most service providers have moved away from the P2P systems and are now using the streaming media.

Many providers of Internet television services exist including conventional television stations that have taken advantage of the Internet as a way to continue showing television shows after they have been broadcasted, often advertised as "on-demand" and "catch-up" services. Today, almost every major broadcaster around the world is operating an Internet television platform. Examples include the BBC, which introduced the BBC iPlayer on 25 June 2008 as an extension to its "Radio Player" and already existing streamed video-clip content, and Channel-4 that launched 4oD ("4 on Demand") in 2006 allowing users to watch recently shown content.

Controlling content on the Internet presents a challenge for most providers; in order to ensure that a user is allowed to view content such as those with age certificates, providers use methods such as parental controls that allows restrictions to be placed upon the use and access of certificated material. The BBC iPlayer makes use of a parental control system giving parents the option to "lock content", meaning that a password would have to be used to access it. Flagging systems can be used to warn a user that content may be certified or that it is intended for viewing post-watershed. Honor systems are also used where users are asked for their dates of birth or age to verify if they are able to view certain content.

An archive is a collection of information and media much like a library or interactive-storage facility. It is a necessity for an on-demand media service to maintain archives so that users can watch content that has already been aired on standard-broadcast television. However, these archives can vary from a few weeks to months to years, depending on the curator and the type of content. For example, the BBC iPlayer’s shows are in general available for up to seven days after their original broadcast. This so-called "seven-day catch-up" model seems to become an industry standard for Internet television services in many countries.

Broadcasting rights vary from country to country and even within provinces of countries. These rights govern the distribution of copyrighted content and media and allow the sole distribution of that content at any one time. An example of content only being aired in certain countries is BBC iPlayer. The BBC checks a user’s password and address to make sure that only those users located in the UK can stream content from the BBC. The BBC only allows free use of their product for users within the UK as those users have paid for a television license that funds part of the BBC. This password and address check is not foolproof as the user may be accessing the BBC website through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or proxy server.

Broadcasting rights can also be restricted to allowing a broadcaster rights to distribute that content for a limited time. Channel 4’s online service (4oD) can only stream shows created in the US by companies such as HBO (Home Box Office) for thirty days after they are aired on one of the Channel 4 group channels. This is to boost DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) sales for the companies who produce that media. Some companies pay very large amounts for broadcasting rights. For example, the ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) channel pays large amount of money to subscribe all types of sports and broadcast rights via Internet.

The above examples show that how the Internet is being used on various TV channels to broadcast their programs in various formats. In this regard if we look at the TV channels in Sri Lanka, there are 44 registered TV channels which use Internet to broadcast their programs both via online and as recorded version*3. This will be explained in detailed at section 2.

2. Internet Usage among TV Stations in Sri Lanka

It has been ten years since the Sri Lankan TV channels began to use the Internet to broadcast their programs all over the world. In fact, there are many factors that motivated the Sri Lankan TV channels to use the Internet to broadcast their programs. Following are some of such factors: vast number audience (Sri Lankans) who live abroad; Internet access abroad; easiness of watching many TV programs at once and time servings.

Regarding number of audience abroad, it is reported that more than 2 million Sri Lankans live in Europe as Diasporas. The three decades of armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has led many people to flee from the country and take shelters in Europe. Apart from the Diaspora, there are many labors and house maids’ work in the Middle East countries. One report says that one-seventh of total population*4 of the country live abroad. These people like to watch Sri Lankan TV channels via the Internet. According to a media person in Sri Lanka, there was a huge demand from the Diaspora about the Sri Lankan TV programs in the early 2000s.

Another aspect is Internet access. It is reported that Internet access is easier abroad when compared to Sri Lanka. In addition, the cost of Internet (monthly rental) is also relatively cheaper abroad. This has increased many Sri Lankans who live abroad to watch Sri Lankan TV channels via Internet. One Sri Lankan who lives abroad told the author that although he lives far away from Sri Lanka, due to the Internet he feels very close to his home country. He added that sometimes Sri Lankans who live abroad know more about Sri Lanka than a person who lives within the country because those who live abroad, has more curiosity about the country. Even if they missed a program, later they can watch it from the archives.

Another aspect is that it is easier to watch many programs at once with the Internet. It is noted that since many of those who live abroad tend to have very limited leisure time with their tight work schedule, this Internet TV turned out to be very convenient. One Diaspora in Canada told the author that since there are 12 hours time difference between Sri Lanka and Canada, he cannot watch the Internet TV on time and thus he often records Internet TV programs to follow up his dramas, music and news.

Another aspect is that the Internet TV is relatively cheap when compared to cable TVs. One Diaspora in UK told the author that prior to the Internet TV he used to subscribe cable TVs in order to watch Sri Lankan channels. It was very expensive and they had to pay some initial costs as well. However, for the Internet TV they pay nothing except the Internet connection charge every month. He really appreciates the Internet TV and looking forward to watch more programs from various channels online.

Regarding the TV channels, there are 44 registered TV channels in Sri Lanka. These can be categorized into four sections: Digital Terrestrial Networks, Analog Terrestrial Networks, Local TV Channels on Satellite or Cable Networks, and Pay Television Networks. Digital Terrestrial Networks is a type of television that does not involve either satellite transmission or cables. Instead transmission is done with radio waves and antennas. Analog Terrestrial Network is almost similar to Digital Terrestrial Network. Local TV Channels on Satellite is designed to give you as much local coverage on as many local channels as possible. Pay Television Networks refer to subscription-based television services, usually provided by both analog and digital cable and satellite television. Following tables shows each section in detail.

Digital Terrestrial Networks
  Name Ownership Language(s) Established
1 Hiru TV Private Sinhala May 23, 2012
Analog Terrestrial Networks
  Name Ownership Language(s) Established
1 Independent Television Network State-owned Sinhala 1979
2 Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation State-owned Sinhala 1982
3 TNL TV Private Sinhala / Eng 1993
4 MTV – SPORTS Private English 1992
5 ETV Private English 1995
6 Swarnavahini Private Sinhala 1997
7 Sirasa TV Private Sinhala 1998
8 Shakthi TV Private Tamil 1998
9 Channel Eye State-owned English 2000
10 ART Television Private English 2003
11 Derana TV Private Sinhala 2005
12 MAX-TV Private Sinhala / Eng 2007
13 Nethra TV State-owned Tamil 2008
14 Vasantham TV State-owned Tamil 2009
15 Varnam TV Private Tamil 2009
16 NTV State-owned English 2009
17 DAN Tamiloli Private Tamil 2009
18 CCTV News Private English 2010
19 Carlton Sports Network (CSN) Private English 2011
20 The Buddhist TV Private Sinhala 2011
Local TV Channels on Satellite or Cable Networks
  Name Ownership Language(s) Established
1 Young Asia Television Private Sin / Tam / Eng 1995
2 Srilakvahini Private Sinhala 2006
3 Sri TV Private Sinhala 2006
4 Dhammavahini Private Sinhala 2007
5 The Buddhist Private Sinhala 2007
6 CiTiHiTz Private Sinhala 2007
7 Gospel Vision Private Sinhala / Eng 2007
8 Channel C Private Sinhala 2008
9 Lakroo / Info TV State-owned Sinhala 2009
10 Heritage TV Private Sinhala 2009
11 Neth TV Private Sinhala 2009
12 One Sri Lanka TV Private Sinhala / Eng 2009
13 Knowledge TV Private Sinhala 2010
14 Dream Music TV Private Sinhala 2010
15 Nenasa TV Private Sinhala 2010
16 One Six Channel Private Sinhala 2011
17 Swarga TV Private Sin / Tam / Eng 2011
18 Ridee TV Private Sinhala 2012
19 Shraddha TV Private Sinhala / Eng 2012
Pay Television Networks
  Name Technology Established
1 Dialog TV Digital Satellite 2005
2 Digital Pay TV Digital Signals 2007
3 PEO TV IPTV (ADSL and WiMAX) 2008
4 Lanka Broadband Networks (LBN) Analog / Digital Cable 2009

The above tables explain the name of each TV channels, ownership(s), language(s), technology used and establishment year. According to the above tables there are two types of TV channels in Sri Lanka, namely: State-owned TV channels and Private-owned TV channels. It is noted that there are seven state-owned TV channels including ITN and 32 Private-owned TV channels in Sri Lanka. Following section will explain the ITN TV in Sri Lanka.

3. Independent Television Network (ITN)

Independent Television Network (ITN) is the first and foremost TV channel in Sri Lanka. It was established in 1979, as the first television broadcasting service both in Sri Lanka and South Asia region. It was also the first privately owned television station in a region where government was in control of radio and television. In 1992 ITN was converted to a public company with the state as the major shareholder of the company. It broadcasts content to a wide demographic within Sri Lanka as well as the expatriate community. The programs are broadcasted in three languages; Sinhala, Tamil, and English. Vasantham TV is a second television channel operated by ITN, broadcasts content in Tamil language. Prime TV is a third television channel operated by ITN, broadcasts content in English language. Following section will explain some selected programs that ITN broadcast via Internet.

  • 3.1. Selected Programs which broadcast via Internet

    ITN broadcasts or simultaneously retransmits a variety of programs to the Internet in three languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English. The tables below list the types of programs and some of their content broadcasted via the Internet.
    ITN channel – (Primarily broadcasts content in the Sinhala Language)
    Programs Content*
    News Sinhala language
    Tele-dramas "Amaa", "Ridee-sitham" and "Muthu-warusa"
    Films Sinhala Films, Hindi films and English films
    Documentaries "Atapattama" / Around the world
    Educational Programs "Young Inventors" and "Pahe-danuma"
    Children’s entertainment Cartoons / Animations
    Programs dubbed in Sinhala Tele-drama (Chinese)
    Game shows "Daintee" / Talent Show
    Religious programs Religious Speeches
    Political debates "Hathweni Peya"
    *Titles of programs are in quotes.
    Vasantham TV – (Primarily broadcasts content in the Tamil Language)
    Programs Content*
    News Tamil language
    Tele-dramas "Sundara Kandam"
    Films "Children movies" (Tamil language)
    Documentaries "Payanam / Tour around the country"
    Educational Programs "Puzzles"
    Children’s entertainment "Cartoon" (Dubbed in Tamil)
    Prime TV – (Primarily broadcasts content in the English language)
    Programs Content*
    News English language
    Music Programs "Music Runway", "House of Rock" and "Music with Bevil"
    Debates and Discussions "The Round Table" and "Ayubowan Sri Lanka"
    Educational / Variety Programs "Prime Sunset"

  • 3.2. Response from viewers

    This section will explore some responses from audience abroad. In fact, the author of this research has conducted a few interviews over the phone, Skype and e-mails in order to get their views on Internet TV. Based on the interviews, the author has come to the conclusion that a large number of Sri Lankans who live abroad watch Sri Lankan TV channels via Internet for the following reasons. The first reason is language. According to one diaspora in France, Sri Lankan TV channels are very useful to him and his families as most of the TV channels are in French, which is difficult to understand. His family prefers to watch Sri Lankan TV channels via Internet. Further, he added that watching TV channels in their mother tongue is always enjoyable.

    Second reason is cultural differences. According to one diaspora in Canada, he prefers to watch Sri Lankan TV channels via Internet, because Canada is a multi-cultural country where it is very difficult to find a unique culture or unique norms. By watching Sri Lankan TV channels he feels very close to his home country and can respect its cultural values. Third reason is different TV programs. According to a diaspora in Japan, many TV programs in Japan tend to be entertaining. However, in Sri Lanka TV channels mostly explore the family issues, religious beliefs and politics.

    Followings are some of the popular programs that people abroad like to watch from ITN. First is the ITN news, which broadcast news six times a day in three languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English. Second is the drama program. In fact, ITN broadcast some selected TV dramas that are really meaningful and entertaining. The TV drama "Ama" is one such example, which was mentioned by many audiences abroad. Third is the children’s program. Some popular programs include cartoons and children’s movies dubbed in Sinhala language and children’s reality shows. Finally, people like to watch political discussions. In fact, ITN broadcast "Hathveni-Peya," a political discussion program every morning at 7am. For this program ITN invites some politicians and political analysts to discuss about the current political situations in Sri Lanka.

    The above responses from many Sri Lankan viewers abroad show that they are very much interested in watching Sri Lankan TV channels, particularly ITN via Internet. Although they pointed out some programs from ITN, they also mentioned some other programs from other TV channels in Sri Lanka. This will be explained in detail at section 4.

  • 3.3. Future Plans

    This section explores a discussion with a media person from ITN. It is noted that ITN has been thinking to expand its programs all over the world as much as it could. Although ITN produces some good TV dramas and reality shows, due to the limitation of technology and lack of administrative systems / management it could not broadcast its entire programs via Internet. In order to enhance its broadcasting services, ITN plans to make some collaboration with neighboring countries’ TV channels in the future. Moreover, ITN is planning to work with both Japan and Korea in order to get their technical support to enhance online retransmission. Further, he added that the broadcasting equipment used by the ITN is very old (some more than 30 years old). In fact, ITN still use video-tapes instead of digital technology. In the future, ITN wants to switch its technical devices to support digital systems with the help of Japan and Korea.

  • 3.4. Collaboration with other TV stations

    ITN has been working with many TV channels both in Sri Lanka and abroad. It is noted that ITN receives some TV programs from abroad and dub them in Sinhala or Tamil languages. Likewise, ITN lends some programs to foreign TV channels free of charge. The main purpose of this collaboration is to promote inter-cultural understandings among TV stations in different countries. Apart from the dubbed programs, ITN also broadcast some foreign TV programs with Sinhala or Tamil subtitles. Dubbing a foreign program cost higher when compared to those with subtitles. Followings are some of such programs that ITN received from foreign TV channels.

    Regarding the Children’s movies, ITN broadcast every weekend some English or Hindi kid’s movies dubbed in Sinhala or Tamil. Sometimes, ITN also broadcast movies with Sinhala or Tamil subtitles. For example, the movies "Home Alone" and "Baby’s Day Out" were broadcasted several times with Sinhala dubbing via ITN. Likewise, ITN also broadcasted some Hindi and Iranian movies with Sinhala and English subtitles. Apart from the movies, ITN also broadcast several cartoons especially for kids both in Sinhala and English languages.

    One media person from ITN pointed out that ITN received some TV dramas both from China and Korea and is planning to broadcast them in the future. However in 2005, the Sri Lankan government passed a new media law stating that if aTV channel wants to broadcast a foreign program it must pay certain amount of money to the government. For example, to broadcast an episode of a foreign program, the TV channel must pay a minimum of Rs. 100,000. It is quite costly for a TV channel to afford. Although some TV channels want to broadcast more foreign TV programs, due to this new law they have to give up their plans. But from the Sri Lankan government’s point of view, this type of new media law can protect and nurture local artists by indirectly providing them more opportunities to work with the TV channels in Sri Lanka. However, there should be an agreement between the Sri Lankan government and local TV channels.

4. Simultaneous Retransmissions: Some Selected TV Stations in Sri Lanka

This section will explore some selected TV channels in Sri Lanka that use Internet to broadcast or simultaneously retransmit their programs all over the world. According to the Ministry of Mass media, there are ten key TV channels, namely: Independent Television Network (ITN), Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRPC), Swarnavahini, Sirasa TV, Hiru TV, Derana TV, Siyatha TV, Max TV, Buddhist TV, Daham Gagana TV, CSN TV, Prime TV, TNL TV and Vasantham TV. Following paragraphs will explain some of the above TV channels and their programs that they simultaneously retransmit via Internet.

  • Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRPC)
    Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRPC) is the national television network of Sri Lanka. It produces and broadcasts programs in three languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English. Programs that SLRPC simultaneously retransmit via Internet include news, dramas and educational programs. In fact, the educational programs, particularly those for the grade 5 and 10 students, were popular among many audiences abroad. One viewer from Canada told the author that this program is well organized and enables his children to know more about Sri Lanka and their educational systems.

  • Swarnavahini
    Swarnavahini is a privately owned TV channel in Sri Lanka established in 1997. Swarnavahini is a leading news and entertainment television channel. Its main theme is "Sri Lankeeya Abhimanaya" which means "Sri Lankan Pride". The channel has many popular programs such as the cookery show "Rasasaraniya", the talk show "Coffee with Lahiru", community support program "Janasarana" and live news programs both at 8 am and 12 noon. It is reported that Swarnavahini’s newscast is very famous abroad. One viewer from Singapore told the author that Swarnavahini’s newscast is very unique in terms of contents and themes when compared to other TV channels in Sri Lanka. In fact, it is very easy to understand for various audiences.

  • Sirasa TV
    Sirasa TV is an analogue terrestrial television network in Sri Lanka. It was founded in 1998 similar to their Radio network Sirasa FM. Sirasa TV is owned by two companies, the Capital Maharaja Organization and Gregson Holdings Ltd. Sirasa TV is a Sinhala language channel. It broadcast videos in PAL (Phase Alternating Line) and analogue picture formats. The channel has many popular programs such as "Sirasa Super Star" (singing competition), "Sattana" (political discussion) and "Punchi Panchi" (children’s programs). It is reported that "Sirasa Super Star" is very popular among the audiences abroad. One viewer from Japan told the author that he is watching this program every weekend via Internet.

  • Hiru TV
    Hiru TV is a privately owned television channel in Sri Lanka. It is the first and only digitally enabled HD television channel in the country. Hiru TV entered into Sri Lanka’s television history by offering island-wide coverage from day one. Hiru TV combines high definition technology and quality program lineups to provide television audiences with an unmatched array of entertainment options. Viewers can enjoy various programs. Hiru TV simultaneously retransmits programs such as Hiru News, dramas and Hiru TV game shows via Internet. It is reported that Hiru dramas are very popular among the viewers abroad. One viewer from UK told the author that he is watching Hiru drama every night.

  • Derana TV
    Derana TV is a privately owned TV channel in Sri Lanka. It broadcasts a range of entertainment programs such as dramas, reality shows, kids programs, music and variety shows. It is reported that Derana reality show is very popular among the viewers abroad. One viewer from Dubai told the author that he never miss Derana reality show. He further added that Derana TV always broadcast good reality shows via Internet.

  • TNL TV
    TNL is a privately owned TV station in Sri Lanka. TNL simultaneously retransmit news, game shows, political discussions and other programs via Internet. It is reported that Political discussion that TNL simultaneously retransmit every Tuesday at 10pm is viewed by vast number of audiences abroad. In fact, this is the only TV channel in Sri Lanka that harshly criticizes the present government.

  • Max TV
    Max TV is an analog television channel in Sri Lanka. It broadcast their programs 24 hours a day. It was launched in 2007. It telecasts their programs in English, Tamil and Sinhala languages. It is reported that Max TV is very popular for music programs. Vast number of audiences abroad watches Max TV for its music programs. One viewer from Canada told the author that Max TV have good collections and broadcast new songs every day.

  • Buddhist TV
    Buddhist TV is the first Buddhist television channel in Sri Lanka. It is available on the Sri Lankan Direct to Home satellite television service, Dialog TV and Internet. The aim of this channel is to broadcast programs related to religious and cultural matters in three languages: English, Sinhalese and Tamil. It is reported that many audience abroad watch Buddhist TV in order to enhance their knowledge of Buddhism. One viewer from UK told the author that when he watches Buddhist TV he feels very close to his home country.

  • CSN TV
    Carlton Sports Network (CSN) was established in 2011. The main purpose of this channel is to broadcast news related to sports and culture. CSN TV is available on Dialogue TV, SLT IPTV service and Internet. It is reported that many audiences watch CSN just to watch cricket matches. In fact, cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. One viewer from Italy told the author that prior to 2011, he used to watch cricket matches via cable TV, which is quite expensive in Italy. However, after CSN became available, he began to watch cricket matches via Internet on CSN.

5. Foreign TV programs in Sri Lanka

This section will explore some selected TV dramas from four countries namely, Japan, Korea, China and India to explain how these foreign TV dramas came to Sri Lanka and became broadcasted via the respective TV channels.

  • 5.1 Japanese TV Programs

    • Suzuran (Return of Happiness)
      Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRPC) broadcasted a new Japanese drama called ‘Suzuran’ (Return of Happiness). The serial drama was dubbed in Sinhala and was telecasted in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka. SLRPC also planned to telecast "Suzuran" The subtitled in Tamil over its channel "Rupavahini Eye" shortly for the benefit of Tamil viewers. Suzuran is a life story of a Japanese lady named Moe, set within the social background of Japan during the period of 1920 to 1990. The story takes us through the ups and downs of her life as she pursues her life’s dreams to establish herself. The drama serial was originally telecasted in Japan in 1999 by NHK and became very popular among Japanese. Japan Foundation, under its program to promote Japanese TV content abroad, from among numerous proposals of international television stations worldwide has selected Rupavahini to release this popular drama. According to a media person from Rupavahini, the first episode of Suzuran was viewed by more than one million viewers abroad.

    • Oshin (Rags to riches)
      The story revolves around a courageous girl (Oshin) of a poor peasant family that lived in Japan in the early stages of twentieth century. The way little Oshin boldly faces challenges in life and the sheer determination shown by Oshin in her young age brings inspiration to children as well as to parents. Oshin was first brought to Sri Lanka in 1989, dubbed in Sinhala language and was telecasted via the SLRPC over a year. SLRPC had the privilege of sharing television programs with Japan from its commissioning date. It is reported that some Sri Lankans even named their children "Oshin" due to the popularity of this drama.

  • 5.2 Korean TV Programs

    "Sujatha Diyani" (Daughter Sujatha) is a very popular drama in Sri Lanka these days, shown on SLRPC from Monday to Friday. This is a Korean drama dubbed In Sinhala language. The main character "Changumi" has become very famous among the audiences. Sujatha Diyani tells the tale of an orphaned kitchen cook who went on to become the king’s first female physician. In a time when women held little influence in society, young apprentice cook Jang Geum strives to learn the secrets of Korean cooking and medicine in order to cure the King of his various ailments. It is based on the true story of Jang-geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty. The main themes are her perseverance and the portrayal of traditional Korean culture, including Korean royal court cuisine and traditional medicine. In fact, Sujatha Diyani has become very popular among young girls in Sri Lanka.

  • 5.3 Chinese TV Programs

    "Gillian Chung Ding Yao" is a Chinese television series dubbed in Sinhala language as "Mayawarunge Lokaya" (The Holy Pearl). Gillian Chung Ding Yao is a normal college student who is taken back to the past by accidentally triggering the "Nine-Star Wheel" Chung also portrays Xian Yielding Yao’s previous life and former Grand Priestess of Nan Yue. Purba Rgyalacts as Wen Tian a half dragon demon with human blood. He was sealed and imprisoned in the ancient tomb for 20 years until freed by Ding Yao. This program is very famous among the children in Sri Lanka. It is reported that some children are very fond of Gillian Chung Ding Yao character and tend to have as nick name for them.

  • 5.4 Indian TV programs

    Today, Sri Lankan TV viewers are facing a transformation from traditional dramas they used to watch to Indian dubbed dramas. Several years ago the general public would return home in the evening and watch locally produced national dramas. However, the transformation of drama industry in Sri Lanka began in 1997 with the introduction of "Shanti". From then on, Indian dubbed dramas were telecasted during weekdays. Here the author has picked two Indian TV dramas namely, Swapna and Shanthi.

    • Diya Aur Bathi Hum (Swapna)
      "Diya Aur Bathi Hum" is a Hindi television series dubbed into Sinhala as "Swapna" which is telecasted by the Sirasa TV. "Diya Aur Bathi Hum" is the story of Sandhya’s (Swapna) struggles, who dreams of becoming an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer. She dreams to break the boundaries of her confined existence of middle class values. The story is also about Sooraj, who is a self made man. Sooraj runs a famous sweet shop near his house. Sooraj and Sandhya (Swapna) get married under strained circumstances. Swapna lived with Sooraj but in this family she struggles with her strict mother-in-law who does not accept her daughter-in-laws being police officers. The story shows how a husband becomes his wife’s strength and helps her to fulfill her dream. The above drama is a good example to many Sri Lankan who face problems with their mother in law and daughter in law.

    • Ek Aurat Ki Kahani (Shanti)
      Ek Aurat Ki Kahani is a Hindi TV series dubbed in Sinhala as "Shanti" in 1997. It was broadcasted by Sirasa TV. The story begins with two friends of the biggest movie production house in the country. The two friends, Kamesh Mahadevan and Raj Singh live in the Shanti Mansion. Every character has a past and has something hidden, it all gets revealed as Shanti, an aspiring journalist attempts to write the biographies of Kamesh and Raj. The main purpose of this drama was to explore how a poor woman was abused by two rich people during a construction work. It was very popular both in India and in Sri Lanka. In fact, it is a good example to those who suffer such situation both in India and Sri Lanka.

5. Conclusion

The overall conclusion of this research is that although the ITN use Internet to broadcast some of its programs such as news, dramas, sports and entertainment programs both online and as recorded version, due to the lack of technical devises and lack of administrative systems it could not broadcast its entire programs via Internet. Compared to other TV channels in Sri Lanka, ITN has the largest audience of approximately 3 million, both in Sri Lanka and abroad. In fact, there is a huge demand from the audience compared to other TV programs provided via Internet.

Regarding the foreign TV programs, although some TV channels such as Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRPC), Independent Television Network (ITN) and Sirasa TV broadcast foreign programs such as dramas, cartoons and adventures, due to the new media law that charges money to broadcast foreign TV programs, some Sri Lankan TV channels has become reluctant to broadcast foreign programs. Moreover, dubbing foreign programs into Sinhala or Tamil languages are expensive too. In brief, broadcasting foreign TV programs involves some financial restrictions compared to local programs.


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  2. The TIMES, "BBC iPlayer ‘Risks overloading the Internet’", 04/10/2008
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  4. Derana TV Online. (Accessed on 11/27/2013)
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  10. Internet Television. (Accessed on 11/12/2013)
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  12. Oshin (Rags to riches) Japanese Teledrama. (Accessed on 12/10/2013)
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  14. Sirasa TV Online. (Accessed on 12/02/2013)
  15. Siyatha TV Online. (Accessed on 11/27/2013)
  16. Sri Lanka Online TV Chancels. (Accessed on 11/23/2013)
  17. Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation. (Accessed on 11/22/2013)
  18. Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation online (Accessed on 11/25/2013)
  19. "Streaming Guide" List of Online TV Shows in Canada (Accessed on 05/16/2011)
  20. SujathaDiyani (daughter sujatha) Korean Teledrama. (Accessed on 12/03/2013)
  21. Susuran (Return of Happiness) Japanese Teledrama. (Accessed on 12/10/2013)
  22. Swarnavahini TV Online. (Accessed on 11/26/2013)
  23. Television in Sri Lanka. (Accessed on 11/20/2013)
  24. Vasantham TV Online (Accessed on 12/05/2013)


  1. BBC iPlayer is an Internet television and radio service that was developed by the BBC to extend its former RealPlayer-based and other streamed video clip content to include whole TV shows. *1

  2. Peer-to-peer file sharing is the distribution and sharing of digital documents and computer files using the technology of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking. P2P file sharing allows users to access media files such as books, music, movies, and games using a specialized P2P software program that searches for other connected computers on a P2P network and locates the desired content. *2

  3. In the case of Sri Lanka, most of TV channels including Independent Television Network (ITN) and Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation broadcast news online while local and foreign dramas and musical programs are uploaded as recorded versions. It is noted that almost all dramas and music programs are uploaded in their respective websites within five hours of their broadcasting. *3

  4. According to the census report in 2011 and 2012, there are 21.5 million people in Sri Lanka. Among them, 3 million lives abroad, with one-seventh of population live outside the country. *4

*Links are for posted items. It is possible that some items are not currently available or are being edited.

Mohamed Shareef ASEES (PhD)

Lecturer (visiting) Department of Political Science and Public Policy University of Colombo - Sri Lanka

PhD – Conflict Studies & Peace building
Graduate School of Global Studies (GSGS)

Doshisha University, Japan
MA - International Cooperation Studies,
Graduate School of International Development (GSID)
Nagoya University, Japan

BA (Hon’s) Special in Political Science,
Faculty of Arts
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

Past Symposiums

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