On or Off? Intelsat Still Confused in Sri Lanka

According to the Sri Lankan Army, LTTE broadcasts continue via the Intelsat 12 satellite. Via the Asian Tribune:

THE SRI LANKAN EMBASSY in Washington has complained to the US Justice Department, State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against Washington based Intelsat Ltd., for reneging its promise of removing the National Television of Tamil Eelam (NTT) channel and Pulikalin Kural radio from the Intelsat 12 satellite transponder and for continuing to facilitate and broadcast terrorist propaganda.

Before lodging the complaint, the Sri Lankan Embassy brought to the communication satellite company’s notice that despite its assurance that it has removed both channels from its transponder, it continues to broadcast National Television of Tamil Eelam, and Pulikalin Kural (Voice of Tigers radio) the official television and radio of the LTTE.

Intelsat Ltd., according to sources, laid down conditions to the Sri Lanka Embassy that talks with them should not be publicised or divulged to anyone which the Embassy refused even to consider.

Subsequently, the Sri Lankan Embassy alleged that the satellite provider is violating US law by continuing to broadcast the propaganda television and radio services of the foreign terrorist organisation LTTE, through the satellite they own despite public assurances given ago to the contrary.

National Television of Tamil Eelam, the official television channel of the LTTE is a free-to-air channel to Asia and an encrypted channel to Europe.

The four-hour daily programme of the NTT channel broadcasts propaganda material of the LTTE, a terrorist organisation banned in United States of America, Canada, India and in European Union countries.

The illegal transmission of the NTT channel of the LTTE was for the first time brought to Intelsat Ltd’s notice by Asian Tribune on March 10.

Dianne VanBeber, Intelsat Ltd Vice President in charge of Investor Relations and Corporate Communication, told ‘Asian Tribune’ that the LTTE is pirating the Intelsat’s 12 bandwidth without the company’s knowledge.

"Intelsat has notified the original customer for the capacity that they are in violation of their contract, and Intelsat has informed them to cease transmissions," VanBeber said.

Asked to identify the original customer of Intelsat, VanBeber refused to disclose the service provider’s name who has accommodated the LTTE’s media without Intelsat Ltd’s knowledge.

Asked whether Intelsat was not aware that the LTTE’s National Television of TamilEelam was using the Intelsat 12 satellite bandwidth since 2005, she clarified that Intelsat Ltd acquired PanAmSat only on July 3, 2006, and LTTE’s National Television of Tamil Eelam might have come to quietly share the Intelsat 12 satellite.

She said: "We are taking action to cease their transmission soon." Subsequently this issue was taken up by Bernard Goonetilleke, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Washington with Intelsat’s General Counsel, Phillip Spector.

A press statement was released by the Intelsat after the meeting.

In a press statement dated April 10 Intelsat Corporation said: "Intelsat officials, including its technical experts, met with Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, Bernard Goonetilleke, on April 10 to discuss the steps Intelsat is taking to address the unauthorised 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 organisation’s unauthorised use of our satellite’."

Later, the Sri Lankan embassy revealed that Intelsat Ltd., stated that during April 21-22 they switched off the transponder of the free to air NTTE channel beamed to Asia and the encrypted channel beamed to Europe.

The Lyngsat site confirms that both the television and radio broadcasts were up and running on 29 April 2007 — nearly three weeks after we first blogged it. The program can be found every day, from 18:00 to 21:30 GMT, on Intelsat 12, transponder 2 (downlink frequency: 11,504 Vertical; symbol rate: 2894; FEC: 3/4).

How did that happen? If you read ToTheCenter.com, you’d think it was indeed turned off:


( By Walter Jayawardhana)

Sri Lanka’s envoy in Washington, D.C. said his office had been given an assurance by Washington based Intelsat Corporation that they have switched off the transponder used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to broadcast its propaganda, during the last weekend.

“We were told last evening by Intelsat executive Phillip Spector that the transponder used by the LTTE was switched off during the weekend,” Bernard Goonetileke, Washington, D.C.’s Sri Lankan Ambassador told this correspondent.

However, Goonetileke said he was still not sure whether the banned terrorist group has made some other arrangements with a European satellite company to carry on with the broadcasts continually.

He said inquiries are made to check whether LTTE is continuing its broadcasts and whether they are doing it through another channel, suspected to be Globe Cast satellite of a European company.

A press release issued by the Washington, D.C. Embassy of Sri Lanka said,
“Intelsat Ltd., a U.S. based satellite company has terminated the “unauthorized” use of one of its satellites, Intelsat12, by the Sri Lanka based terrorist organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), for its TV and radio transmissions to Europe and Asia.”

The Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Intelsat Ltd., Mr. Phillip Spector, confirmed to Rajika Jayatilake, Counselor (Information) at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington, D.C., that Intelsat Ltd. had, over the April 21/22 weekend, shut down the transponder, which the LTTE had used for its transmissions, the press release said further.

Whatever new channel the LTTE is using will have to be advertised through some means since the viewers and listeners of its propaganda have to be informed about the changes in the broadcasting frequencies. So far, no such advertisement has been found.

Following the meeting with Ambassador Goonetileke on April 10, 2007, Mr. Phillip Spector, of Intelsat Ltd., stated that the LTTE transmissions were “unauthorized.” Countering the position taken by Intelsat Ltd., speaking from Sri Lanka’s north to wire services in Colombo, the LTTE denied it was using the satellite services illegally. “We are accessing it legally and there is no signal piracy,” said an LTTE spokesman.

However, inquiries by this correspondent could not find out any evidence to confirm the statement of Phillip Spector, that the LTTE was a pirate of the satellite.

The Embassy press statement traced the history of the LTTE-INTELSAT connection as follows: “Since March 2005, the LTTE had been transmitting TV and radio programs through Europe Star 1 satellite owned by French satellite provider, Alcatel. PanAmSat, a satellite operator headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut in the U.S., acquired Europe Star 1 satellite in July 2005. In July 2006, Intelsat Ltd. acquired PanAmSat, following which, Europe Star 1 satellite was renamed Intelsat12. The programs that the LTTE had been transmitting through Europe Star 1, thus continued uninterrupted even after Intelsat Ltd. acquired the satellite.”

It is believed that it was the intense pressure used by the Washington Embassy of Sri Lanka and the U.S. State Department and the Department of Justice, together with press publicity, that was adversely affecting Intelsat that finally brought an end of the deal.

The Sri Lanka Embassy said, the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Justice had both been informed that a terrorist group designated by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), was using a satellite owned by a U.S. based satellite company to transmit their TV and radio programs to Europe and Asia. (EOM)