Rajapaksas Wrestle For Olympic Rights Muscling Out Rupavahini
By Indika Sri Aravinda
The Carlton Sports Network (CSN), owned by the Mahinda Rajapaksa family, has sought the exclusive broadcasting rights of the 2012 London Olympics.
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) has already paid for and obtained the exclusive rights for the broadcast and stands to lose financially if it gives the rights to another network. The SLRC had obtained the rights as a member of the Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU) which is under the International Broadcasting Union (IBU), the broadcast rights holder for the Olympics. The state television broadcaster had obtained the television broadcast rights for the 2012 Olympics through a deal signed with the ABU in 2008.
When The Sunday Leader contacted the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSN Nishantha Ranathunga he confirmed that they have sought the broadcast rights for the 2012 Olympics. He said that since Rupavahini had already obtained the broadcast license for the Games which begin in July, CSN will hold discussions with the state broadcaster on the telecast rights. “We hope to reach an agreement on this with Rupavahini soon,” Ranathunga said.
The Sri Lanka Olympic Committee President Hemasiri Fernando told The Sunday Leader that the telecast rights have been given to Rupavahini and so it cannot be given to another television channel.However he noted that Rupavahini can approve another television channel to re-broadcast the event under certain conditions.
He also confirmed that Ranathunga had contacted him regarding the television rights and he informed Ranathunga that only one television channel can have the exclusive rights as the sole member of the ABU.
The Sunday Leader also contacted SLRC Chairman Mohan Samaranayake and he said that no decision has been taken on giving the broadcast rights to CSN.
He said that SLRC has put written to ABU regarding the request from CSN but has not yet received a response, yet.
He said that SLRC has already paid for the telecast rights but will have discussions with CSN on its request.
Meanwhile a Rupavahini trade union said that by giving the rights to another channel the state television channel stands to lose heavily in the form of advertising revenue.
A spokesman for the trade union, who wished to remain anonymous, said that loss of revenue from the Olympics broadcast could also hurt the staff salaries and bonus.