For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
By Damith Wickremasekara
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has been called into investigate the operation of illicit radio stations, after a series of detections in various parts of the country, head of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC) Anusha Palpita told the Sunday Times yesterday.
He said that six illicit radio stations have been detected and there reports that several more of them are operating in various parts of the country including in the Eastern Province. “We have released a frequency, to be used for broadcasts in schools and at functions, with a radius of one kilometre. This is the frequency which is being illegally used”, Mr. Palpita said.
He said that the broadcasts were being used for various purposes including commercial purposes, and religious and political propaganda. “They sometimes operate for a few hours or sometimes late at night to avoid detection”, he added. The latest detection of an illicit radio station was made in Matale late last month. The station operating from a Kovil in Matale, had a transmitter to broadcast to a radius of one kilometre. Sub Inspector Sunil Yatawatra who led the raid, told the Sunday Times that investigations have revealed that an engineer of the State Radio had sold the transmitter to the person who operated the station.
“We are now investigating as to how this engineer had obtained the equipment”, he said. The station was operating from a room within the shrine room of the Kataragama Devale on a hill. The radio station operator, Alaguraj Rajendran, 43, owns a communication centre and has a diploma in transmitters. He was arrested and subsequently released on bail. Investigations revealed that the station which operated under the name “Om-Shakthi’, was mainly broadcasting commercials relevant to the area. Earlier, the TRC and the Police raided illicit radio stations in Beruwala and Puttalam.
The Sunday Times