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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

Satellite based ‘Direct to Home’ television services a threat to National security

Colombo, 08 April, ( Media ports operating Direct to Home television service linked to any international satellite communication portal would be seen as a threat to a country’s security. It tends indirectly to helps to penetrate and enable the viewing of the ‘Free to Air channels’ of terrorists organizations broadcast in the same satellite. So far, it is learnt that government has failed to come up with precautionary regulations to prevent such penetrations by the terrorists’ organizations.

Direct to Home (DTH) is a means of delivering television signals directly to the end-user.

Sri Lanka satellite Television service provider/s linked to Intelsat 12 satellite, promotes their package to houses by installing dishes, positioning it at 45.0°East pointing towards the satellite direction in the space, which would enable also to bring the ‘free to air’ National Television of the Tamil Eelam as well as the Voice of Tiger Radio into the homes of Sri Lanka.

As these TV and radio channels of the LTTE are broadcast through Intelsat 12 satellite, and once a dish is sold to a customer by a DTH service provider for installation in a house, it indirectly helps the viewing of the ‘free to air LTTE channels.’

In Sri Lanka, Asset Media, a subsidiary of Dialog Telekom Ltd., operates Direct to Home (DTH) satellite TV service. They are known one customer, who has a total of 29 channels up-linked to the two transponders of the Intelsat 12 satellite.

According to the latest available statistics, they have at present more than 30,000 subscribers with more than 150,000 to 200,000 regular viewers. These viewers are in a position to view the Asset Media’s 29 channels up- linked to the Intelsat and also can view the ‘free to air channels’ - National Television of the Tamil Eelam of the LTTE with footprint to Asia and Europe, plus the free radio broadcast of the Voice of Tigers radio.

It is learnt that Asset Media, a subsidiary of the Dialog Telekom earlier acquired the CBNSat belonged to Communiq Broadband Network (Pvt) Ltd., - claimed to be the first satellite DTH service provider in Sri Lanka.

CBNSat launched its media port for South Asia in Sri Lanka on the 27 May 2005. They launched their media port, in the beginning; by up-linking their channels in two transponders belonged to Europe Star satellite.

In the very same period, Tamil Eelam National Television too was up-linked to the same Europe Star satellite. During that period, Europe Star satellite was owned by Alcatel, the French-based communications satellite provider. Later on 19 July 2005 PanAmSat signed an agreement acquiring the Europe Star owned by French Alcatel. Again on 03 July 2006, PanAmSat was merged with Intelsat.

In the meantime, CBNSat was closed and sealed by the Sri Lankan police. On 06 June 2006 police armed with a search warrant raided the premises of CBNSat located at No. 83, George de Silva Mawatha, Colombo 13. The search revealed that although CBNSat had a Vendor License, no license was available, issued by the authorities to operate satellite Video up-Linking services to transmit Direct to Home (DTH) TV programs.

Sri Lankan Police sought the Attorney General's advice in this regard and was told that the private satellite station had violated section 17 (1) of the Telecommunication Act No. 25 of 1991.

Subsequently “Asian Tribune” learnt that court granted permission for the CBNSat to dispose their DTH services. Accordingly it was sold to Asset Media, a subsidiary of the Dialog Telekom for Sri Lankan Rs. 523.8 million.

Asset Media, a subsidiary of Dialog Telekom Ltd., is licensed by the Ministry of Media to provide television broadcasting services, delivery of Pay Television and Cable Television Services and the operation of a Television broadcasting station.

In the beginning, when Asset Media owned DTH service took off, it has not insisted with the Intelsat Ltd., to remove the Tamil Eelam National Television from its satellite. Even after it became operational, when Voice of Tigers Radio began their broadcast through the Intelsat 12 satellite on 05 March, Asset Media never thought it fit to assert the Intelsat Ltd to remove the Voice of Tigers from satellite. Even after “Asian Tribune” brought this matter to the notice of the Intelsat Ltd.; Asset Media simply ignored the seriousness of the issue for reasons best known to them.

According to investigation Asset Media is paying a rental fee for two transponders to the Intelsat Ltd., nearly US$120,000 per month, where as LTTE might be paying a few thousand dollars as rental.

Experts’ views reveal that allowing the National Television of Tamil Eelam and the Voice of Tigers radio to broadcast through a satellite amounts to compromising the national security of the country.

Recently “Asian Tribune” contacted Muhunthan Canagey, CEO of Communiq Broadband Network (Pvt) Ltd. which owned the CBNSat, whether initially he was involved with the up-linking of the Tamil Eelam National Television with the Europe Star satellite?

He denied of any connection with the LTTE. It should be noted that CBNSat and a LTTE TV channel - National Tamil Eelam Television were up-linked almost at the same time in May 2005.

However, detail of person/s behind the up-linking of the LTTE TV would be available with Intelsat Ltd., the Washington based satellite service provider.

When “Asian Tribune” for the first time contacted on March 05 Ms. Dianne VanBeber, Intelsat Ltd., Vice President in charge of Investor Relations and Corporate Communication to identify the original customer of the Intelsat who was responsible for up-linking the LTTE National Television of Tamil Eelam, Dianne VanBeber refused to disclose details of those responsible for up-linking the LTTE’s electronic media with the Intelsat satellite bandwidth.

When asked whether Intelsat was not aware of the fact that LTTE’s National Television of Tamil Eelam was using the Intelsat 12 satellite bandwidth since 2005. Dianne VanBeber clarified that the Intelsat Ltd acquired the PanAmSat only on July 3, 2006, and LTTE’s National Television of Tamil Eelam might have come to share quietly the Intelsat 12 satellite when they have acquired PanAmSat.

She said, “We are taking actions to cease their transmission soon. “ She further added, “Tamil Tigers are pirates and they are broadcasting illegally in the Intelsat 12 satellite without any proper authorization.”

However Dianne VanBeber refused to comment, when “Asian Tribune” recently contacted her to find out the action they have taken to remove the LTTE’s TV and radio from their satellite.

- Asian Tribune –

Also Read:

1. LTTE broadcasting illegally in Intelsat 12 satellite: Will be closed down soon – Intelsat Ltd.

2. Tigers open up new satellite radio station from Vanni

3. Sri Lankan government finances Tigers by buying their Tamil TV programs

4. French guillotine ready to chop the head of Paris-based Tamil Television Network.

5. Tigers grab Tamil TV and radio stations in France

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