Senior Researcher, Centre for Policy Alternatives
Ashoka News and Knowledge Entrepreneur
Sri Lankan newspapers seek individuals who can rescue
print media from impending irrelevance. Qualiﬁed
applicants must possess new media skills and understand
web technologies. Getting people to pay for online
content will be added bonus.
Must be able to work from home, on the road and at
ofﬁce. Mobile phone essential.
Persons resistant to change need not apply.
Not a happy time. Global recession + local ﬁscal mismanagement + media
repression = fragmented, cash strapped markets
Cover prices and subscriptions do not cover costs of content production
Advertisers have a de facto control over print and electronic media
Readers of alternative press are not purchasers. Same problem with new
Lack of advertising increases costs, decreases market share, volume,
distribution and impact
may have to shut down. Spectrum will struggle
without GoSL ads.
Leader recently had the worst ad revenues in 13 years
Leader shut down, never proﬁtable
• WithoutGoSL ads, any publication ﬁnds it hard to survive.
GoSL ads only go to State media.
• Vicious cycle of ﬁnancial crisis
War heightens / risk increases / FOE decreases
Violence continues / print & electronic suffer / web media stronger
War ends / FOE increases / media freedom ﬂourishes
Irrespective of war trajectory, web media grows wider and deeper, including
diaspora content production
Terrorism slow burn / status quo continues
Journalists leave Sri Lanka / continue to write
CONVERGENCE | QUAD PLAY
• Tamilnet.com blocked since June 2007
• Teleconferencing disallowed on Suntel
• SMS blocked on independence day / Dialog blocks JNW
• Mobile telephony regularly shut off in embattled areas
• Telcos complying with unwritten MoD diktats?
6 DRIVING FORCES
1.Increasing media consumption
5.New revenue models (?)
New Media and Citizen Journalism will merge with MSM
Consumers will become producers
Citizen will become witnesses who report
Audiences will fragment, broadcast and distribution will be redeﬁned
MSM on the web will become places not static products.
News will be a conversation - reported and then responded to.
Mobiles will be ubiquitous and everyone will be addressable
billion video streams watched by 91 million viewers in
• Average duration 2.9 minutes
• 44% of online video on Google / YouTube
• Average of 55 videos a month per user
• In July ’08, Americans watched 11.4 billion videos, a total
PRINT OR ONLINE?
Moving away from print and terrestrial to online media
PRINT IN ASIA
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Asia Europe North America
Source: Time Magazine, 2 March 2009
MOBILE GROWTH IN SRI
Mobiles (in millions)
Fixed lines (in millions)
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
200,000 broadband users
Several thousand mobile broadband users
3 million ﬁxed lines / 8 million mobiles / 11 million SIMs (Source: Lirneasia)
Heavy use of SMS
Most newspapers have websites
Around 1,000 blogs
Facebook groups / social networking vibrant particular in Middle East
VERNACULAR NEW MEDIA
• Vikalpa YouTube
videos watched hundreds of thousands of
times (~200 from Nokia 93i, ~150 from DV)
• Shortvideo vernacular content more popular than vernacular
• CPA ﬁrst with tri-lingual UNICODE website.
• 100+ Sinhala and Tamil blogs on Kottu, out of over 300 in just
the past two years.
IS SLPI TEACHING ITS
STUDENTS TO LEVERAGE
WEB 2.0 AND NEW MEDIA?
MOBILE / SMS NEWS
1,000 SMS messages
Rs. 8,053 via http://www.intellisms.co.uk
Rs. 1,000 on Dialog
IMPACT OF NEW MEDIA: LONG TERM
• Emphasison communicative rights: citizens have a right to
produce and access a wide and diverse range of information
and views that inform them on the main issues of the day.
• Information treated as a public good
• Freedom of expression not simply the media’s right to
publish / produce but the ability and rights to participate in the
IMPACT OF NEW MEDIA: LONG TERM
• Hyper-local, topic speciﬁc media now possible
• Niche content attracts consumers over time
• Niche content archives become valuable over time
• E.g. paddy cultivation best practices in Mahaweli C Sector, surf
conditions in Arugam Bay, garment sector worker’s mobile blog
EVOLUTION OF MEDIA
Groundviews vs. The Island (PCC useless in 2007) but Editor asks for
reprint permission in 2009
The Sri Lankan blogosphere vs. Lakbima (emergence of a strong new
MSM journalists will need to recognise blogs are legitimate sources of
information - attributing them correctly
Media trust models will need to develop to determine bias of
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND
• How will you shape the institution to deal with these trends -
political and technological?
• How will you shape the training to address the development