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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 913

LTTE’s free-to-air channels to end "within days" -- Intelsat

Washington, 12 April, (Asiantribune.com): Representatives of Intelsat 12 satellite has told Sri Lanka’s Amabassador Benard Goonatilake that the National Television of Tamil Eelam and the Pulikalin Kural radio broadcast in the bandwidth will be removed "within days".

Intelsat issued a press release titled “Intelsat Works With Sri Lankan Authorities to Halt Unauthorized Use of Its Satellite.”after the meeting with Ambassador Goonatilake in Washington.

The press release said: “Intelsat, the leading provider of global satellite communications, today issued a statement with regard to the unauthorized use of one of its satellites by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lanka-based terrorist group. The U.S. State Department lists the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization.

“Intelsat officials, including its technical experts, met with Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States, Bernard Goonetilleke, on 10 April to discuss the steps Intelsat is taking to address the unauthorized use of one of its satellites by the LTTE. During the meeting, Intelsat's General Counsel, Phillip Spector, said, "Intelsat does not tolerate terrorists or others operating illegally on its satellites. Since we first learned of the LTTE's signal piracy, we have been actively pursuing a number of technical alternatives to halt the transmissions. We are clear in our resolve to ending this terrorist organization’s unauthorized use of our satellite."

“The Sri Lanka Embassy and Intelsat agree that these illegal transmissions by the LTTE are a violation of Sri Lankan and U.S. laws.

“Following the discussion, Ambassador Goonetilleke said, "I am satisfied that Intelsat is taking these unauthorized transmissions very seriously, and believe it would do all that it can to stop the terrorist transmissions. I am confident that Intelsat will continue to cooperate with Sri Lankan authorities in this matter."

However, Intelsat is yet to announce a specific date on which the LTTE channels would be removed. It has also not explained why it takes such a long time to remove them.

Ambassador Goonatilake in Washington met Phillip L. Spector , Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Intelsat including its technical experts, on April 10. The meeting was to bring to the notice of the Intelsat Ltd executives that they are having National Television of Tamil Eelam and the Pulikalin Kural (Voice of Tigers Radio) channels of the Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist outfit, embedded in one of their satellites. Goonatilake pointed out that this was a threat to the national security of Sri Lanka and its people.

He pointed out that LTTE is a banned terrorist organization in USA as well as in the European Union countries and India. It was emphasized that the LTTE, an internationally banned terrorist’s organization, is making use of the Intelsat 12 satellite channel to glorify terrorism globally.

At the meeting it is learnt that Intelsat Executive officials has informed Ambassador Benard Goonatilake that -

1. the LTTE had pirated the TV and radio waves from their satellite.

2. Intelsat's General Counsel, Phillip Spector, said, "Intelsat does not tolerate terrorists or others operating illegally on its satellites. Since we first learned of the LTTE's signal piracy, we have been actively pursuing a number of technical alternatives to halt the transmissions. We are clear in our resolve to ending this terrorist organization’s unauthorized use of our satellite."

3. Intelsat has assured that they will remove those two channels belonging to the LTTE from their satellite “within days.”

However, Intelsat has been very cagey about giving details of their transactions with the LTTE. Legal circles are of the opinion that Intelsat can be held liable for violating international laws in dealing with banned terrorist organization.

Intelsat is yet to reveal:

1. the name of the customer who is authoritatively dealing with these two free-to-air Channels;

2. in whose name invoices are sent for the collection of the satellite charges of the Intelsat Satellite;

3. the amount of money collected as satellite charges for the two free-to-air channels and

4. who is paying the satellite charges and how they are paid?

If Intelsat Ltd has received money from the LTTE, as satellite charges, either from the LTTE directly or indirectly from the authorized person’s of the LTTE, then legal circles believe serious consequences can follow from such evidence. Besides, the integrity of Intelsat will also be open for questioning.

“Asian Tribune” initially brought this issue to the notice of the Intelsat when it contacted on March 05 Ms. Dianne VanBeber, Vice President, Intelsat Ltd in charge of Investor Relations and corporate communication. She told “Asian Tribune” that Sri Lanka’s terrorists’ outfit LTTE is presently pirating the Intelsat’s 12 bandwidth without the knowledge of the company.

When after a few days Asian Tribune contacted Ms. Dianne VanBeber to ascertain whether they have removed the two channels of the LTTE, she refused to make any comments.

In the meantime, Ms. Chitrangani Wagiswara Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Paris took up the matter with the relevant authority in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Ambassador told “Asian Tribune” that the matter was brought to the notice of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka. Subsequently when the delegates belonging to the Sri Lanka Telecommunication Authority came over to participate in the 31st Extraordinary Meeting of Parties of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) held in Paris from 20-23 March 2007, this matter was taken up with David McGlade, CEO of Intelsat Ltd. He was informed of this issue at the ITSO by Sri Lankan diplomatic officials.

McGlade who had initially maintained the LTTE had pirated the TV and radio waves had promised to ensure the Tigers were no longer able to beam through Intelsat 12.

Sri Lanka Ambassador in Paris told that since no step had been taken to rectify the situation, a fax was sent to the Intelsat reminding about the non-action. Phillip Spector, responded to the official protest and agreed to settle this matter by meeting with Ambassador Benard Goonatilake, Sri Lanka’ Ambassador in Washington.

Intelsat, Ltd. is one of the largest commercial satellite communications service providers. On July 18, 2001, Intelsat became a private company.

In 2004 Intelsat was severely criticized by the US public for broadcasting propaganda of Al Manar , a TV station related to Hezbollah. It also carried propaganda of the MED-TV related to the Kurdish terrorist group in the past. Incidentally, both groups have been linked to the LTTE. Therefore, it is now assumed that the revenue earned from the LTTE may have been the main reason to remove the two free-to-air LTTE channels.

- Asian Tribune -

Also Read:

1. Asset Media failed to address the national security concern arising from Direct to Home service

2. Satellite based ‘Direct to Home’ television services a threat to National security

3. LTTE broadcasting illegally in Intelsat 12 satellite: Will be closed down soon – Intelsat Ltd.

4. Tigers open up new satellite radio station from Vanni

5. Sri Lankan government finances Tigers by buying their Tamil TV programs

6. French guillotine ready to chop the head of Paris-based Tamil Television Network.

7. Tigers grab Tamil TV and radio stations in France

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