For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Shares of a leading all-island Tamil daily, Thinakkural, published simultaneously in Colombo and Jaffna, were for ‘sale’ recently for hundreds of millions, and the competitors ranged from a former LTTE bigwig in the Rajapaksa camp and a Sinhala media house to circles close India. Ultimately, another leading Tamil daily in the island, The Virakesari, succeeded in purchasing 41 percent of the shares for 240 million rupees, informed media circles in Colombo said. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan state-owned media establishment Lake House has started publishing a Jaffna edition of its Tamil daily Thinakaran. Colombo soon plans to bring out this edition of Thinakaran using the facilities of Eezhanaatham, the only daily that was earlier coming from Vanni and the building of which is now occupied by the SL colonial military.
Selvarasa Pathmanathan (KP), sources close to India, and a privately owned Sinhala media house were competing to buy the shares of Thinakkural, media sources said.
Pressure was exerted on Thinakkural by SL government quarters citing labour issues related to pensions of employees.
Some years ago, a section of editorial staff members who were dissatisfied with The Virakesari management and went away from it started the Thinakkural daily with the financial investment of S.P. Saamy, a Colombo-based businessman coming from Veala’nai in Jaffna. Now, The Virakesari management emerges with a new say on all-island Tamil dailies.
However, under the current circumstances, the editorial members of the Thinakkural are much relieved to see the daily going under a sister media rather than falling a prey of politicians, sources close to Thinakkural said.
Meanwhile, the administration of the Jaffna Municipal Council, perceiving Uthayan, a leading daily coming from Jaffna as one supporting the Tamil National Alliance, has recently ordered to stop getting the newspaper to municipal-run institutions, including the Public Library, media sources in Jaffna said.
The Mayor, Yogeswary Patkunam has issued an order in this regard on Thursday. This was in response to Uthayan publishing allegations against the municipal administration, the sources further said.
The EPDP of Douglas Devananda is running its own newspaper Thinamurasu, which has become a daily a few months ago.