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Wednesday June 7th, 2023

Carlton Sports Network to resume broadcasts soon – Rohan Welivita

ECONOMYNEXT – The Carlton Sports Network Television channel (CSN), will resume operations soon, a senior executive of the company said.

Rohan Welivita, a former Director of the company’ said work “has begun to restart the channel as soon as possible.”

He told EconomyNext today, May 27, that “the wheels are in motion.”

Welivita’s statement comes a day after the government withdrew it’s objections to the functioning of the channel after the company filed a Writ Application before the Appeals Court against an order issued by the former government cancelling its license.

At a hearing in court on May 26, all parties to the case, the Media Ministry and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) came to an amicable settlement over the cancellation of the license clearing the way for CSN to resume transmission of its programming.

The frequencies granted to the channel at its outset was also restored by the TRC.

CSN began broadcasting in March 2011 and quickly acquired the most lucrative sports franchise in Sri Lanka, broadcasting rights for Sri Lanka Cricket.

Cricket Broadcasts were by Regulation a monopoly of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, which traditionally made large profits off the telecasts acting as an indirect subsidy for the State Broadcaster.

In 2011, the Cabinet deregulated the Broadcast Rights issue and that year CSN was the only bidder for Sri Lanka Cricket, winning the lucrative deal. It was later extended for 3 years.

The granting of a three-year rights deal was unprecedented as the usual practice was to grant the rights on a series-by-series deal.

The deal became controversial after other private broadcasters who qualified under the regulations, such as the Capital Maharaja Group, complained that they had not been permitted to bid.

In June 2012, the BBC quoted the then Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket Upali Dharmadasa as saying that CSN was owned by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sons Namal and Yoshitha.

After the change of government in 2015, the new administration blocked CSN’s license through a Media Ministry fiat.

It also restored the Rupavahini Corporation’s exclusive rights to Sri Lanka Cricket, although the new administration of the state TV station failed to capitalize on the bonanza.

Speculation is already swirling that CSN will take aim at Rupavahini again by appropriating the transmission infrastructure of loss-making SLRC Channel Eye.

“There are negotiations to see whether CSN can enter into a profit-sharing deal with Channel Eye,” persons involved with the process told EconomyNext on condition of anonymity.

Channel Eye, which usually broadcasts mostly English language entertainment, news and sports programming, has been thrust into an educational role after the COVID 19 pandemic enforced a lockdown on the country and all schools were closed.

The once-dominant state broadcaster is a shell of its former self. It is surviving on government handouts and is behind most terrestrial TV channels in ratings despite having better physical signal coverage than any other station in the country.

For CSN such a tie-up would be a good win as its own network of transmitters have been faulty and signal coverage in the country patchy, industry watchers said. (Colombo, May 27, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana





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Sri Lanka’s shares slip on profit taking and selling pressure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed lower on Wednesday after four consecutive gains in previous sessions spiraled into selling interest and profit taking, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was down 0.28 percent or 24.39 points to 8,722.06, this is the lowest the index has been since May 02, while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was down 0.40 percent or 9.92 points to 2,468.44.

“The market was gaining in the previous sessions and there is selling and profit taking present today, due to continuously being on green,” an analyst said.

In the previous sessions the market was seeing gains, due to lowered policy rates and low inflation stimulating buying interest and driving the sentiment up, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

“There are gradual improvements in the market sentiment, with positive sentiments coming in from lowered policy rates and inflation,” an analyst said.

The market generated foreign inflows of 12 million rupees and received a net foreign inflow of 18 million rupees, due to low share prices and discounted shares followed by a dividend announcement.

The market generated a revenue of 554 million rupees, this is the lowest the turnover has been since May 10, while the daily turnover average was 1 billion rupees. From the total generated revenue, the banking sector contributed 120 million rupees, Diversified Banks contributed 115 million rupees and the Capital Goods Industry generated 78 million rupees.

Top losers during trade were Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and Aitken Spence. (Colombo/June06/2023)

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Sri Lanka Treasuries yields plunge, 12-month down 318bp

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields plunged across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 12-month yield falling 318 basis points, in one of the biggest one day falls, data from the state debt office showed.

The 3-month yield fell 244 basis points to 23.21 percent.

The 6-mont yield fell 339 basis points to 21.90 percent, along with the 12 months to 19.10 percent.

The short-term yield curve is inverted.

The central bank last week cut its policy rate 250 basis points in a signaling move but is not printing money to enforce the rate cut.

The debt office sold all 140 billion rupees of offered securities. (Colombo/June07/2023)

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Sri Lanka forex reserves rise US$722mn in May 2023

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves grew 722 million US dollars to 3,483 million US dollars in May 2023 from 2,761 million US dollars in April, official data showed amid weak credit and better inflows.

Sri Lanka lost almost all its reserve in over two years as the central bank sold reserves and printed money to keep rates down (sterilized reserves sales) including borrowed dollars from India.

Gross official reserves fell to a low of 1,705 million US dollars in September 2022.

Sri Lanka’s central bank hiked rates in April 2022 to slow credit and also stopped printing money after it ran out of borrowed Asian Clearing Union dollars from India.

Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves are made up of both monetary reserves of the central bank and any balances of the Treasury account from loans or grants it gets.

The central bank’s net foreign reserves are still negative after busting up borrowed reserves to suppress rates. By April (before the collection of reserves in May) the central bank’s net reserves were negative by 3.7 billion US dollars.

In May alone 662 million US dollars were bought from the market, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.


No pre-determined level to stop Sri Lanka rupee appreciation: CB Governor

Borrowing dollars through swaps and busting them up, was invented by the US Federal Reserve as it was printing money and breaking the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s.

Sri Lanka received a 350 million US dollar tranche from the Asian Development Bank and 331 million US dollars from the IMF to the Treasury for budget support.

The loans can be sold to the central bank by the government to generate rupees and spend. However, since credit is weak, not all the inflows go out of the country particularly as the central bank is conducting deflationary open market operations on a net basis.

By allowing the rupee to appreciate unlike in previous episodes of recovery in an IMF program, after a bout of money printing, the central bank is bringing down inflation – in some cases absolute prices – and restoring confidence and easing the ‘pain’ of ‘monetary policy’ or stimulus.


Why is Sri Lanka’s rupee appreciating?

Though exports are falling, tourism revenues are also picking up.

The budget support loans, tourism receipts less the reserve collected will widen the trade deficit. Building foreign reserves involves lending money to the US or other western nations and is similar to repaying foreign debt. (Colombo/June07/2023)

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