US Embassy on Iranawila station closure

The United States says it values its strong relationship with Sri Lanka and bilateral partnership over the past 60 years. The Iranawila shortwave station, managed by an independent US agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), is an example of this partnership. The shortwave station has transmitted Voice of America programs from Washington through shortwave radio signals to audiences around the world, bringing them news, music, and special interest programs about the United States. Without the support of Sri Lankan governments over many years, Voice of America could not have succeeded in its mission of telling America’s story to the world.

The US embassy says in a statement that over time, however, the audience for shortwave broadcasts has diminished. People are increasingly turning to other sources of news and information – including, but not limited to FM radio, satellite television, websites, and social media – often delivered via mobile phones. The BBG is committed to reaching audiences on their preferred media. Given changing audience habits and the increasing costs of operating shortwave transmission stations, the BBG decided to close the Iranawila station.

The land where the station is located was leased from, and is being returned to, the Government of Sri Lanka. During the time of its operation, the US government has developed the Iranawila property, building roads, clearing and levelling the land, building drainage canals, fences, and modern office buildings. The US government has also installed service connections to public utilities and 4.2Mw of onsite self-generated power. All of these improvements have significantly increased the property’s value, and the flexibility of the site to serve many roles in the future. The United States government is returning with gratitude its lease of over 400 acres of property in Iranawila back to the Government of Sri Lanka in its entirety, including any and all improvements.

Voice of America provides trusted and objective news and information in 47 languages to a measured weekly audience of more than 236.6 million people around the world. For nearly 75 years, VOA journalists have told American stories and supplied objective news and information about the US, their region and the world.