Lake House now makes profits – State Minister Bandara
The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) has made profits during the last few months despite allegations that it is a loss making institution, State Minister of Mass Media Shantha Bandara said in Parliament yesterday (28).
The State Minister noted that the ANCL has made a Rs. 25 Million profit in October 2022 and Rs.30 Million profit in November 2022 respectively.
State Minister Shantha Bandara made these observations during the Debate on the Expenditure Head of the Ministry of Mass Media, in Parliament yesterday (28) in response to a question from Galle District MP Shan Wijelal.State Minister Shantha Bandara said, “An allegation was made that the Government’s influence over state media weakened the said institutes. It is not the case anymore. These institutes are given full freedom without any influence.
Now, private media news content and state media news content are almost the same. The Opposition has been allotted considerable air time. The reasons why these institutes are making losses are excess number of employees and the COVID-19 pandemic. Criticisms were made saying that Lake House is making huge losses. However, it is not so. During the last few months, owing to the hard work of its Chairman and the dedicated staff, Lake House is now making profits.
In October, the company made Rs. 25 Million in profit while in November, it recorded a Rs.30 Million profit.In December, it will drop a little. These institutions made losses due to the country’s different conditions. These institutions are committed to looking in to the the welfare of journalists. They have been given an insurance policy. Steps will be taken to look into the welfare of local correspondents as well.”
State Minister Bandara also said that the Department of Information and the National Media Development Centre should be used to enlighten the rural community of its responsibilities during a crisis like this. He noted that these two entities could improve awareness about Sri Lanka’s progress in the international platforms as it has been tainted by some organized groups.
The State Minister said, “There are many hindrances when it comes to issuing media licenses as we still use the 1966 Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation Act and the 1982 National Rupavahini Corporation Act for this purpose. It is a serious issue. So, on the directions of the President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the guidance of the Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, we have drafted a new bill and presented it to the Cabinet. Accordingly, a Sub Committee under the headship of Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe is looking into it.
The new Act will in no way affect the existing TV and radio channels. Future issuances of license will happen under this new Act.”
“There are 15 institutes under the purview of the Media Ministry. These institutes contribute immensely to the media and communication sector of the country. Some opposition MPs alleged that journalists are facing Government-inflicted suppression. I would like to ask, which journalist was threatened? No such thing has happened. President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement was wrongly interpreted. He never threatened anybody. If you remember the incidents on May 9, your Opposition Leader had a close shave. We would now have a new Opposition Leader if something happened to him. SJB MP Eran Wickremeratne ran faster than Usain Bolt to get away from the protestors who attacked him. What the President said was not to damage public property or attack people. If that happens, the Government would be compelled to use the Police or the Defense Forces to stop such behaviour. Please understand that. Protection is provided to the Opposition Leader as well.”
State Minister Shantha Bandara further said, “Today, there is not much difference in news reporting when it comes to Government media channels and Private Media channels. The state media has reported in an impartial manner. The Heads of state media have been given the freedom to work independently devoid of any political influence. I analyzed these facts. The ITN is a profit-making institute. It is competing well in the market and progressing. Even though the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation is not making profits, it has maintained its quality very well. The Head of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation has presented an extensive plan to come out of this loss-making situation. It is the same case with the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). The SLBC has numerous assets across the country. We need to invest in these assets. The Department of Government Printing also makes losses. We need to strengthen it. They need upgraded printing machines to improve its printing quality. So, we are hoping to provide them with a new printing machine next year. They also have issues relating to salaries and allowances. We have presented this issue to the Cabinet and will soon be provided with a solution. I had a brief discussion with the Education Minister regarding the printing of school textbooks. The private sector prints 55% of the total textbooks while the SPC receives about 45%. The Department gets only about 1%. We need to increase this at least to 25%,” he said.
“Many forget the service provided by the Postal Department. It employs about 27,000 workers. It makes about Rs. 7 billion loss. We have already come up with a plan to restructure and modernize the department together with the private sector. The Sri Lanka Institute of Printing is a profit making entity. We are planning to either establish it as a university or a higher education institute that can offer higher education opportunities to students who want to join this sector. We need to make all these institutes profit making entities,” State Minister Shantha Bandara also said.