The central government owns and operates all telephone, telegraph, cable, and radio facilities, except in a few rural districts, which are served by private exchanges. In 1998 there were 494,509 telephones, more than half of which were in Colombo. In 1999, cellular subscribers numbered 228,604. Domestic telephone service is reportedly inadequate, while international service is good.
The government operates both commercial and noncommercial radio broadcasting services in Sinhala, Tamil, and English and began television service in 1982. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation airs broadcasts on AM, FM, and shortwave. As of 1999, there were 12 AM and 5 FM radio stations and 21 television stations. In 2000 there were 208 radios and 111 television sets for every 1,000 people. In 2001, Internet service was available through about five service providers, who were serving 121,500 subscribers that year.
As of 2002, Sri Lanka had more than 10 daily newspapers. The principal morning and evening dailies (with 2002 daily circulation) were the following:
Sri Lanka also has several weekly and monthly publications.
The constitution provides for free speech and a free press; however, restrictions on national security grounds are said to be sometimes arbitrary and overly broad. In 1972, a five-member national Press Council with extensive powers over the press was established; since then varying degrees of censorship have been imposed with changing political conditions.