Amidst speculations that nepotism came in to play in Dialog TV awarding the telecasting rights of the T20 Asia Cup to TNL TV, the Chairman of the channel, Shan Wickremesinghe, has claimed that his channel received the telecasting rights from Dialog after several other television channels had turned down the offer made by Dialog.
Shan Wickremesinghe, brother of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe further noted that suddenly everyone is making a big fuss that TNL TV is telecasting the matches. “Call up and ask someone in Ratnapura if they can watch Rupavahini, CSN wasn’t available all over the country but no one spoke then,” he charged.
Wickremesinghe also added that it was his channel that telecasted the 1996 cricket World Cup which Sri Lanka won, as well as the Asian Football tournament among many other sports programmes.
“Dialog received the telecasting rights, and had approached several local television channels to show the matches, however these channels had declined and then we agreed to telecast it on TNL,” he said.
“There is no family involvement as speculated by some. If we had the backing of the government then we could have easily got about 500 advertisements. We have always had difficulties, and we continue to have difficulties, but I assure you there was no favouritism in awarding the telecasting rights to us by Dialog,” Wickremesinghe added.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the state-run television, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, Ravi Jayawardana said that his channel made a direct offer to Star TV to obtain the telecasting rights, but it was not accepted, and it was instead given to Dialog TV.
“So we made an offer to Dialog since they don’t have terrestrial TV. But they have given it to TNL. However, we got exclusive rights for the ICC World Cup matches till 2019,” he told Colombo Telegraph.
Chairman of Derana TV, Dilith Jayaweera said that the deal between Dialog TV and TNL was a ‘clean deal’ and the Prime Minister had no involvement in Dialog awarding the telecasting rights to TNL. “I checked and double checked. It is a clean deal between dialog and TNL” he said.
“Dialog even spoke to us, but it was not financially viable to run these matches during prime time, and we would have had to compromise on our regular programmes,” he told Colombo Telegraph.
Jayaweera also added that the financial benefit offered by Dialog was insignificant and hence his channel turned down the offer.