The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL), also known as the Lake House Group, is one of the oldest and largest newspaper houses in the country. Presently, it publishes four daily publications (Daily News, Dinamina, Thinakaran and Resa) and three weekly publications (Sunday Observer, Silumina and Vaaramanjari) in Sinhala, Tamil and English. ANCL was founded by D.R. Wijewardene as a private company in 1926, and is located on the street named after him. Following his death in 1956, the editorial policies were overlooked by his son-in-law Esmond Wickremesinghe. In 1973, the government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike nationalised the company through the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (Special Provisions) Act No. 28. A.K. Premadasa was appointed as its first Chairperson.
At present, there are 99 shareholders which includes the Department of Public Trustee, 10 institutions and 88 individuals. These individuals are primarily related to the founders of ANCL or those who held shares at the company prior to its nationalisation. Some of these individuals include the current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who owns 0.19 percent of shares, and Ranjit Sujiva Wijewardene, the owner of Wijeya Newspapers, who owns 0.57 percent of shares. 87.56 percent of ANCL’s shares are held by the Public Trustee, which is within the Department of Public Trustee, on behalf of the government. This body comes under the purview of the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms.
The ANCL Act provides for the Public Trustee to issue these shares to members of the public, which includes societies registered under the Cooperative Societies Law, societies registered under the Societies Ordinance, trade unions registered under the Trade Unions Ordinance, public corporations, working journalists and other persons employed in the company, but excludes companies engaged in the business of printing or publishing a newspaper. According to the ANCL Act, no individual should exceed 2 percent of shares, thereby ensuring that ownership is not concentrated in the hands of one or a few individuals. However, transfers from the Public Trustee to the public have not taken place despite pressure from the media sector, as well as cases filed in the Supreme Court to broadbase ownership as per the legislation. The legislation effectively concentrates ownership of a large newspaper establishment under the control of a government directed institution (see the Legal Assessment for further details).
Public Limited Liability Company
Printing and Publishing
The Department of Public Trustee comes under the purview of the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms. The Public Trustee is entrusted with upholding the final wishes, purposes of the estates (money and/ or property) of donors, settlers of charitable trusts within a legal framework for the utmost benefit of beneficiaries and/ or the general public.
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was established by Act. No. 28 of 1961 in parliament and remains Sri Lanka’s national oil and gas company.
Ceylon Shipping Corporation
The Ceylon Shipping Corporation Limited was established in 1971 under Act No. 11 of 1971. Although established in 1971, it became a fully state-owned company in 1992.
Other Print Outlets
Daily News (0.57%)
Thinakaran Vaaramanjari (0.36%)
Vanna Vaanavil (0.09%)
Resa (missing data)
Mihira (missing data)
Denamuth (missing data)
Athuru Mithuru (missing data)
Wesak Kalapaya (missing data)
Other Online Outlets
Affiliated Interests Founder
Don Richard Wijewardene, also referred to as D.R. Wijewardene, established the Lake House newspapers and played a key role in Sri Lanka’s independence movement. He entered the political arena in 1913, after being elected as the Secretary of the Ceylon National Association. In 1914, Wijewardene, along with his brother, acquired Dinamina, a Sinhala language daily, and thereafter took over the English language daily, The Ceylonese, and re-named it to ‘Ceylon Daily News’. This was followed by the publication of Thinakaran, a Tamil language daily. In 1926, these newspapers were consolidated under the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL). This institution is presently owned by the state and publishes seven newspapers, namely, Daily News, Dinamina, Thinakaran, Resa, Sunday Observer, Silumina and Vaaramanjari.
The following well-known personalities are related to Wijewardene:
Ranjit Wijewardene is D.R. Wijewardene’s son and the founder as well as the CEO of Wijeya Newspapers Limited.
Ruwan Wijewardene is D.R. Wijewardene’s grandson and the incumbent State Minister of Defence.
Sujan Wijewardene is D.R. Wijewardene’s grandson and the current Deputy Chairperson of Wijeya Newspapers Limited.
Ranil Wickremesinghe is also D.R. Wijewardene’s grandson. He is the incumbent Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and Leader of the United National Party (UNP).
Shan Wickremesinghe, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s brother, is the incumbent Chairperson of Telshan Networks (Pvt) Limited (TNL), a media company.
Upali Wijewardene is D.R. Wijewardene’s nephew and also the founder of Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Limited.
J.R. Jayawardene is D.R. Wijewardene’s nephew, and served as the First Executive President of Sri Lanka.
Tax/ ID Number
Revenue (Financial Data/ Optional)
0.14 Mio. $ / 20.6 Mio. LKR
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
Advertising (in % of total funding)
0.02 Mio. $ / 2.54 Mio. LKR
Krishantha Prasad Cooray – is the Chairperson of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited. In Sri Lanka’s media sphere, he has previously held an executive position at The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited and oversaw the news broadcasts by the company’s TV and radio stations. He reportedly played a key role in establishing the Rivira Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited under the Richard Peiris Group and served there as founding Director and CEO. The Nation and Rivira were launched under his direction. However, Rivira ceased its English publication, The Nation, in 2017.
Sugath Chandrasiri Bandara Senaviratne – Director and Board Member
Basnayake Mudiyanselage Dushyanta Bandara Basnayake – Director and Board Member
Mohan Ray Abeywardena – Director and Board Member. He is on the Board of Directors at the Colombo Stock Exchange, Lanka Ventures Limited, Asia Siyaka Limited, Asian Alliance Insurance PLC. He is a Managing Director at Acuity Partners (Pvt) Limited, Chairperson at Acuity Stockbrokers (Pvt) Limited, Chairperson at Acuity Securities Limited, Independent Non-Executive Director at Asia Siyaka Limited, Independent Non-Executive Director at Asian Alliance Insurance PLC, Executive Director at Guardian Acuity Asset Management Limited, and a Member at The Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Ranatunge Arachchige Dona Umashanthie Rajamanthri (nee) Jayawardana – Director and Board Member
The official website of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited has limited information on the management structure, although some information on the current board of directors was displayed. Hence, secondary sources were referenced to compile the required data. Information on the shareholders was gathered through the annual returns available at the Department of Registrar of Companies. The most recent data was available for the year 2016. Readership data was obtained from the Kantar Lanka Market Research Bureau (LMRB) for the year 2017. While the Media Ownership Monitor research team reached out to ANCL by formally requesting for the company’s information on 20 July 2018, the company did not respond to the aforementioned request.