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Intesat to deny LTTE satellite link

world Updated: Apr 14, 2007 11:23 IST
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The LTTE's television broadcasting to the outside world may suffer a major blow soon, when it ceases to have the facility of using the Intelsat satellite.

Following a plea made by Bernard Goonetilleke, Sri Lanka's Ambassador in the US, the Bermuda-based Intelsat said on April 11, that it did not tolerate terrorists or others operating illegally on its satellites.

"Since we first learned of the LTTE's piracy, we have been actively pursuing a number of technical alternatives to halt the transmissions. We are clear in our resolve to end this terrorist organisation's unauthorised use of our satellite," said Intelsat's General Counsel, Philip Spector, in a statement.

He said that unauthorised use of the satellite was a violation of US and Sri Lankan law. The US has designated the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.

According to the Spector, the LTTE has pirated an empty transponder frequency of their Satellite 12 for its broadcasts.

The Colombo-based and state owned Daily News quoted Spector on Friday as saying that the LTTE had actually stolen the space on the satellite and that this was piracy.

Spector said that no customer was permitted to sell his frequency to anyone else, and maintained that the LTTE had been using an empty space in the satellite.

Asked when the LTTE's use would be brought to an end, the Intelsat's lawyer said that it was a complex task but assured that it would be done as soon as possible.

LTTE's broadcasting

The LTTE has been doing radio broadcasting since the 1980s. But the Voice of Tigers (VOT) radio, based in the Wanni, in North Sri Lanka, could be barely heard in Vavuniya, the first major town on the government-side.

In the 1980s the LTTE started a terrestrial TV station called Nitharsanam but its facilities were destroyed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in the late 1980s.

But the facilities were subsequently rebuilt. In March 2005, a European service was started by the Kilinochchi-based National Television of Tamileelam (NTT) using the Eurostar satellite.

In July 2005, a South East Asian service was added. And in March 2007, the Voice of Tigers radio started a South Asia service, using Eurostar.