(Reproduced from The Island of February 26, 2002)
Elektroteks recently commissioned a Rs. 500 million satellite TV station in Ratmalana which aims at providing local programmes to Sri Lankans living abroad, a company spokesman said.
It’s targeted at some 1.5-2 million Sri Lankans living abroad, a communiqué said. Known as TV Lanka, the channel is said to be Sri Lanka’s first TV channel to be broadcast overseas. ‘Viewers from Asia, the Middle-East and Europe can watch these programmes which are transmitted digitally,’ the release said.
This channel which was officially launched on February 15, beams local news and teledramas and conducts a weekly panel discussion called ‘Ethera Methara,’ an interactive programme, where relatives can communicate with their loved ones overseas and also be visible to the viewer abroad, the spokesman said.
"It is quite an emotional programme. On Friday, a person who is working overseas, saw his parents after a lapse of six years through this programme," the spokesman said. He said that TV Lanka first caught the eye of Lankans working overseas when they broadcast the December 5 election results. ‘We received a number of e-mail inquiries after that,’ the spokesman said.
One local working in Oman said: "We were overwhelmed with the news that a satellite TV channel is to be operated soon in foreign countries. We Sri Lankans working in the Middle East are starved of Sri Lankan news. This is also a good opportunity to present the true state of the country as most of the foreign media give a distorted form of news."
The channel currently has a worldwide audience of between 50,000 to 100,000, the note said. “We want to include English programmes, and subsequently those in Tamil,” the spokesman said. He said that when their Chairman B. A. C. Abeywardana recently visited Bangladesh, he was ‘surprised’ to find that a number of Sri Lankans working there viewed this channel.
A viewer, either in Sri Lanka or abroad, who wishes to switch on to this channel would require either a cable TV network connection or a dish antenna and a set-top box, ‘just like receiving CNN or BBC,’ the communiqué further said.
Meanwhile, the release, quoting Abeywardana said:"Our primary goal is to reach the Sri Lankans living worldwide, in the Middle East, Europe and other regions of the world with our own TV programmes and entertain them with Sri Lankan culture, art and literature, while giving them current information about the country".
Already, Electroteks is one of the largest bandwidth providers in South Asia, serving many high capacity data communications users in the region. Recently, this service was made available to corporate and ISP users within Sri Lanka as well as for Internet and other applications at relatively very competitive prices for exceptional price/performance.
"Very soon, with our optical fibre network spanning Colombo City, we will provide the infrastructure needed to make our commercial capital, Colombo, the cyber-city of choice in the region. We have everything ready to provide the best of data communications infrastructure. What we need now is global marketing and government encouragement for Sri Lanka based global enterprises such as call centres, software development centres, multimedia development and editing centres, so that we would compete on par with the best in the world."
"One of the major benefits of our TV-LANKA Satelite TV Transmission will be the facility of commercial advertising and promotion worldwide for any product. Also, this will be a reach out for our commercial and financial sectors via an interactive communication engagement with the world."
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