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Sri Lanka launches Buddhist satellite TV station

Compiled by Tipitaka Network newsdesk, Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sri Lanka's first Buddhist TV channel was launched under the motto of "Peace of mind to all", according to Daranagala Kusaladhamma Thera, chief incumbent of Sri Sambodhi Viharaya.

"The main thinking behind the starting of the channel is to promote Buddhism and Buddhist culture. That's why we coincided the launch with the day before Poson, when Sinhala Buddhist culture and way of living first saw the light of day more than two thousand years ago," Kusaladhamma Thera said.

The 24-hour television channel 'The Buddhist' came into being as a result of an agreement between Ven. Kusaladhamma Thera, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and the Dialog Company. "The Government has no direct involvement in it though they helped us in various ways", Kusaladhamma Thera said.

'The Buddhist' which has a full coverage over the country is being telecast to India, Nepal, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well. English and Sinhala are used as the main languages. Kusaladhamma Thera said that they plan to promote Buddhism in Western countries as well through the channel by widening its coverage.

Apart from the local support, associations like the Chinese Buddhist Association and several other organisations have given a helping hand towards the commencement of the channel. Speaking of the intentions behind starting 'The Buddhist' channel Kusaladhamma Thera said that other religions have nothing to worry about the Buddhists starting a TV channel to uphold Buddhism.

"The Constitution of this country states that priority should be given to Buddhism. And 70% of the citizens of the country too are Buddhists. We don't practise conversions nor do we condemn other religions through the channel. We are doing it in a very justifiable way", the Thera added.

"Even Lord Buddha had asked to accept things if only they appeal to our knowledge. That's what we practice", the Thera said.

A committee headed by Kusaladhamma Thera and CJ Sarath N. Silva is in charge of selecting the programmes and the patron of the channel, Sri Lanka Dialog have come to an agreement not to run any advertisements as profit making is not included in the channel agenda.

"We will run a small notice as to who sponsored the programme but other than that there won't be any advertisements", Kusaladhamma Thera told The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). The General Manager Sales and Marketing of the Dialog Telecom N. Perera said that the motive behind starting the channel was not profit oriented so they decided not to have any commercial advertisements. "The reason is religious. So, we agreed not to put any advertisements", he said.

At the launch, the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa said: "Sri Lanka received the most precious gift on a Poson Poya day -- Theravadi Buddhism. It is on that day we launch this TV channel."

He said that it was an important day for "all Sri Lankans" as it was a new opportunity to convey "to the global community the supreme heritage of ours on a most momentous day."

Expressing a hope that the new broadcast medium would help develop moral values based on Buddhism, he said that it was important to move into broadcasting, hinting that hitherto parents had only been interested in tutoring their children. "We have missed the imperative need for development of the mind" he said.

He went on: "Parents should focus on developing the minds of the children. Media plays a major role in this aspect although the parents are not much aware of such behaviours of the society that could influence their children".

"I'm certain that this channel will take our nation towards a cultured society. Hence this was initiated with the utmost contribution of the Maha Sangha and with dedication of Buddhist citizens who came forward with extrovert aspirations."

But in country that is fighting a civil battle with the (mainly Hindu) Tamil Tigers (LTTE), the President made conciliatory noises, suggesting that although Buddhism will be given the foremost place, other religions are to be tolerated, and no injustice to any other religion will be tolerated in proposals submitted by the All Party Representatives Committee.

source: http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/news/?NewsID=877
source: http://www.sundaytimes.lk/070708/News/nws2.html

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