SUDAN WATCH: Sudan halts BBC broadcasts in Arabic on FM radio frequencies - BBC Arabic in North Sudan still available on short wave, satellite or via BBC website

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sudan halts BBC broadcasts in Arabic on FM radio frequencies - BBC Arabic in North Sudan still available on short wave, satellite or via BBC website

DREADFUL news just in from AFP and Reuters. Shortly after midnight, the BBC broadcasts on FM radio in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum could no longer be heard while other stations were operating normally:
"The government ... is stopping the BBC's FM service working in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Medani and el-Obeid and is suspending the agreement signed between the BBC and (the government) from August 9, 2010," said an Information Ministry statement published by the state news agency SUNA on Sunday.

The four locations mentioned are the main towns in the north and the measure would effectively end FM broadcasts in Arabic by the BBC in the north.

BBC Arabic in North Sudan still available on short wave, satellite or via the BBC website.
Full story below. I say, without a shadow of doubt, the Sudanese government is making a terrible mistake by even thinking of stopping any broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Without the BBC, people in Sudan and surrounding areas would be forced to receive and share news from other sources that are not as trustworthy, accurate or professional which in the age of mobile phones and the internet could easily and quickly work against the best interests of the Sudanese people and their government.

I think it is of the utmost importance that the BBC is encouraged to broadcast throughout Sudan, southern Sudan and Chad and that all residents of IDP camps in Sudan and Chad are able to receive BBC news uninterrupted. In fact, I think that the Sudanese government ought to ensure, as a matter of urgency, that every Sudanese householder has access to a radio as soon as possible.

Nowadays, too much misinformation is flying around the airwaves and cyberspace which cannot be stopped. The only way to counteract misinformation and propaganda, and ensure there is a mechanism for averting chaos and panic, is to provide an easily accessible news service that is trusted by members of the public. The BBC is a reliable world class news source with expert translators which millions of people around the world trust and turn to for checking news reports and facts. In a war zone, radio is of paramount importance and is much more effective and efficient than television and the internet. In fact, radio, even during peacetime, is a lifeline for everyone.

As part of the preparations for Sudan's referenda and peace talks, I dearly wish that the Sudanese government would distribute, free of charge, a solar powered wind-up radio to each Sudanese householder residing in Sudan or Chad who needs a radio.

The BBC is a public service funded by the people of Britain, not the government. Each householder with a television or radio in Britain pays a compulsory annual license fee to the BBC or faces being fined or jailed. It is the only way we Brits can be sure of having a public news service that is not in the pay of government or business owners with vested interests. I have just checked my bank statement and can confirm that £12.12 is deducted monthly from my bank account to pay for my BBC license. In Sudan, people would be receiving our incredible news service free of charge. The least the Sudanese government could do for its people is to work with the BBC to expand its services throughout Sudan and distribute radios in the name of peace. Think of the children of Sudan, it is their future that is being played with right now.

Sudan to 'suspend' BBC broadcast pact
Report from FOCUS News Agency - Monday, 09 August 2010 01:22:
(Khartoum) - Sudan said Sunday it was suspending its agreement enabling the BBC to broadcast in Arabic on FM radio frequencies for reasons that have nothing to do with its newscasts, AFP reported.

In a statement carried by the official Suna news agency, the information ministry alleged that the British public broadcaster had imported technical equipment via diplomatic courier.

The suspension would take effect on Monday, it said, but it was unclear whether it would entail a halt to broadcasts.
Sudan suspends BBC broadcasts on FM
Report from AFP – Sunday, 08 August 2010 c.11.10 PM GMT UK:
(KHARTOUM) - Sudan halted Monday BBC broadcasts in Arabic on FM radio frequencies after suspending its agreement with the British public broadcaster for reasons it said had nothing to do with its newscasts.

In a statement carried by the official Suna news agency late on Sunday, the information ministry alleged that the BBC had imported technical equipment via British diplomatic courier.

Shortly after midnight, the BBC broadcasts on FM radio in the Sudanese capital could no longer be heard while other stations were operating normally.

The information ministry also took the BBC to task for training schemes in the absence of a "final agreement" with Khartoum, and for broadcasting in the southern Sudanese capital Juba without central government approval.

"The suspension has no connection at all with news broadcast by the BBC from Sudan," the statement said.
With four broadcasting locations inside Sudan, plus shortwave services, the BBC is a major source of news in Sudan, the biggest country in Africa whose population of 40 million mostly speak Arabic.
BBC Arabic radio suspended in north Sudan
Report from Reuters - Sunday, 08 August 2010 11:22pm BST
(Reporting by Opheera McDoom; editing by Andrew Dobbie) - excerpt:
The BBC's licence to broadcast in Arabic on local frequencies in north Sudan will be suspended from Monday, the government announced, citing violations by the broadcaster such as smuggling in satellite equipment.

Many Sudanese, especially Darfuri refugees in camps in the war-torn west, rely on the Arabic-language service and the British broadcaster has a long history in Africa's largest country.

"The government ... is stopping the BBC's FM service working in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Medani and el-Obeid and is suspending the agreement signed between the BBC and (the government) from August 9, 2010," said an Information Ministry statement published by the state news agency SUNA on Sunday.

The four locations mentioned are the main towns in the north and the measure would effectively end FM broadcasts in Arabic by the BBC in the north.

Sudan has often clamped down on local media but generally does not censor foreign news organisations.

The government said the BBC had tried to smuggle in satellite equipment in a diplomatic pouch, that it was working in South Sudan without permission from the central authorities and that the BBC's charitable arm was working in the country without the correct permits.

Visiting journalists often complain Sudanese visas and travel permits to conflict zones once inside the country are difficult to obtain.

All foreigners resident in the country are subject to strict travel restrictions and must obtain permits to visit many of Sudan's regions.

The BBC has previously said it was in talks with the government to continue broadcasting.

"We would be very disappointed if the Sudanese people in northern Sudan were no longer able to access the impartial news and current affairs of BBC Arabic on FM radio," it said in a statement sent to Reuters earlier.

It added the station would still be available on short wave, satellite or via the BBC website.

On Saturday, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir warned foreign organisations including aid agencies they would be expelled if they failed to respect the authority of the government.

Last month Sudan expelled two aid workers from the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration. [...]
Photo: A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) satellite dish is seen behind houses in west London, October 18, 2007.
Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville
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BBC NEWS IN ARABIC: BBC ARABIC.COM

See Sudan Watch sidebar for links to BBC Persian TV times, satellite position & frequency.
BBC News Arabic website:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/
BBC ARABIC.COM - BBC News in Arabic
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