Independent Television Network (ITN)

Independent Television Network (ITN) is a Sri Lankan television and radio broadcaster airing in Sinhala, Tamil and English. Now, the broadcaster operates two television and two radio stations.

Media assets

Television: ITN TV, Vasantham TV

Radio: Lakhanda FM, Vasantham FM

State Media Matrix Typology: Captured Public/State-Managed (CaPu)

Ownership and governance

Following a period when it operated as a privately run company and then as a government owned business, ITN was converted in 1992 into a public company under state jurisdiction, with all its shares controlled by the Secretary of the Treasury of the Government of Sri Lanka. As such, the government appoints the ITN governing board. Very often, the ITN chair is a former government official. In January 2022, Niroshan Premaratne, a former MP, was appointed ITN’s chairman.

Source of funding and budget

ITN generates money from commercial sources, which account for the highest part of the broadcaster’s budget. In 2020, according to the latest data available, ITN generated income of LKR 1.5bn (US$ 8m), according to the latest annual report from the finance ministry. The company received a state subsidy lower than 20% of the total budget in 2020.

Editorial independence

Through the power of appointing the ITN’s main governing body, the government exerts full control over the editorial coverage of ITN, according to local experts and journalists. The people at the top of ITN’s governing bodies are in all cases people who worked in the government or people appointed by the government to lead public institutions.

No domestic statute and no independent assessment or oversight mechanism that would validate ITN’s editorial independence have been identified.

September 2023