History of the Organization in Brief
The history of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation dates back to year 1925, when its first pre-cursor, “Colombo Radio”, was launched on 16th December 1925 using a Medium Wave radio transmitter of one kilowatt of output power from Welikada, Colombo. Commenced just 03 years after the launch of BBC, Colombo radio was the first ever radio station in Asia.
This new medium of mass communication not only became increasingly popular in the years that followed, but also quickly evolved into a medium of national character, which led to the “Radio Service” being organized as a separate department of the government of Ceylon (as country was then called) by the ‘call sign’ ‘Radio Ceylon’ in 1949. Subsequently in 1967, the Department of Broadcasting was transformed into its present statutory form of a state corporation by the Ceylon broadcasting corporation Act. No 37 of 1966 of the parliament of Ceylon, thereby assuring increased autonomy and flexibility in the operations of the new organization.
The organization acquired its present name, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, with the transition of the state into the status of “Republic of Sri Lanka” on 22nd May 1972. SLBC has since continued in the same legal status as a state corporation, and is currently listed under the scope of the ministry of Information and Media of the Government of Sri Lanka.
Fulfilling the pioneering Public Service Broadcasting obligations in the Sri Lankan media field.
Carrying out radio broadcasting in such a manner as to improve the quality of life of the listeners by way of developing their skills, knowledge and attitudes relating to various fields such as economic, social, cultural, ethical, educational and entertainment.
1. Continuing to function as the broadcaster maintaining the highest listenership for Sinhala, Tamil and English radio channels.
2. Continuing to function as the premier broadcaster that provides reliable, balanced, information promptly in attractive formats.
3. Producing and presenting high quality, creative programmes for the advancement of indigenous culture.
4. Providing essential training to develop a self motivated workforce with ample skills, knowledge and attitudes.
5. Updating our production and transmission technology appropriately to provide a clear, strong broadcast output to local and overseas listeners.
6. Functioning as the pioneering institution to foster a meaningful broadcast media culture conforming to a Code of Ethics.
7. Contributing creatively as the national radio network to inform the public about the implementation of State policies and development programmes.
8. Maintaining optimum financial management as well as human resource management.
9. Winning the competitive market strategically.
Transition of Domestic Broadcasting from Medium Wave to FM
As was the case with many national radio stations with the same standing several decades ago, SLBC was relying on medium wave as the primary mode of domestic broadcasting until the dawn of ‘90s. Some sporadic FM broadcasts had nevertheless been already introduced at several transmitting stations more as a means of ‘relaying’ the broadcasts to medium wave transmitting stations. However, by late ‘80s SLBC was acting in recognition of the strategic importance of switching from MW to FM as the primary mode of domestic broadcasting. Accordingly, in 1993, ‘the FM Stereo Broadcasting Facility at Colombo’ was commissioned with the technical assistance of the government of Japan.
This was followed by the ‘Islandwide FM Development Project’ that was launched in year 1995. The objectives of the project were to develop an Islandwide multi-channel FM stereo broadcast transmission network and to divest the costly domestic medium wave transmitting stations, which were typically broadcasting only one or two programme channels per transmitting station. By 1999, more than 95% country’s total population was being covered by SLBC’s FM transmissions with nearly 90% of them receiving all six nationwide channels.
Programme Channels (Radio Services) currently maintained by SLBC
SLBC has, throughout its history, been committed to its mandated task of maintaining the public service broadcasting in Sri Lanka, by way of providing the public with the information and entertainment, and fostering the social, cultural and economic development of the country, and has maintained this commitment as the core guiding principle of its programming policy. Despite the introduction of a certain amount of commercial programming into its operations, in order to partially finance its predominantly public service broadcasting operations, the respective station genres and the programming content are carefully designed to be within its programming policy guidelines.
At present, SLBC’s Islandwide (domestic) FM network broadcasts six regular programme channels on a nationwide basis, and those six ‘national’ channels account for the major proportion of its domestic broadcasting. The six channels are,
- Sinhala Swadeshiya Sevaya’ (Sinhala National Service)
- Tamil National Service
- English Service
- City FM (Sinhala)
- Velenda Sevaya’ (Sinhala Commercial Service), and
- Thendral (Tamil Commercial Service)
While the first 03 channels are dedicated for public service broadcasting in the three languages Sinhala, Tamil and English, the fourth one (City FM) is maintained as a channel dedicated for the youth. The last two channels, whilst representing ‘an adult contemporary’ genre, accommodates a certain amount of commercial content. Besides the above six channels operated on a regular basis, SLBC also operates on nationwide basis a seventh channel, namely the ‘Sports Service’, which is a channel dedicated for sports, but only during the times of major sports events such as international cricket matches.
The other component of domestic broadcasting comprises of 04 Regional Services, each of which are originating from respective regional studio centers, and 05 community radio services, operated in five specific areas with substantial socio economic homogeneity. All of these regional and community radio services maintained by the SLBC largely represent a public service broadcasting format with regional community focus.
In addition to the above domestic services, SLBC is also operating a host of overseas services, transmitting in shortwave to the South & South-West Asia and the Middle East, in Sinhala, English, Hindi and several Indian sub-continental languages. Also, there is a medium wave transmitting facility for broadcasting mainly to the Southern regions of India.