South Asia

Sri Lanka profile - Media

Sri Lanka's media divide along language and ethnic lines, with the state and private operators offering services.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Media outlets are divided along ethnic lines

Many of the main outlets are state-owned, including two major TV stations, radio networks operated by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), and newspapers in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

There are more than a dozen private radios, and a handful of privately-run TV stations. Sri Lanka's privately-owned press and broadcasters often engage in political debate, and criticise government policies.


At the height of the civil war Sri Lanka was described as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

The state of emergency imposed at the beginning of the conflict was lifted in 2011, but Reporters Without Borders says that murders, threats and censorship continue, with top officials "directly implicated" in serious press freedom violations.

The government is particularly sensitive to accusations of human rights abuses in the closing phases of the civil war and subsequently. In 2012, a minister said "mudslinging" would not be tolerated.

In April 2013, Amnesty International said that Sri Lanka was still violently suppressing dissent and that journalists were among the targets of "government-sanctioned abuse".

BBC World Service is carried by the SLBC under an agreement between the broadcasters.

There were some 6 million internet users by 2016 ( The web is a popular and growing medium for news.

The government has stepped up online censorship, blocking access to some independent news websites, reports US-based Freedom House.



  • Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC)- state-owned, operates Rupavahini in Sinhala, Channel Eye in English and Nethra in Tamil
  • Independent Television Network (ITN) - state-run, Sri Lanka's first TV station
  • Sirasa TV - private, Sinhala
  • MTV Sports - private, English-language
  • TNL - private, English-language
  • ART TV - private
  • ETV - private, English-language
  • Swarnavahini - private, Sinhala
  • Shakthi TV - private, Tamil


News agencies/internet

  • Lankapuvath - state-owned
  • TamilNet - US-based Tamil news site, widely described as pro-Tamil Tiger