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BBC suspends FM broadcasts in Sri Lanka

[IHT, Monday, 9 February 2009 17:43 No Comment]

The BBC said Monday it was suspending FM radio broadcasts over Sri Lanka’s national broadcaster because of interference with its programs.


The BBC said the state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation had blocked a number of news and current affairs broadcasts in English, Tamil and Sinhala on the BBC World Service since November.


World Service Director Nigel Chapman said the BBC had held meetings with the Sri Lankan network’s chief, to no avail. He said the BBC had not received any specific complaints from the Sri Lankans.


Sri Lanka’s military is involved in fierce fighting to defeat Tamil Tiger rebels after a 25-year civil war. The Red Cross estimates 250,000 civilians are trapped by the fighting.


Hudson Samarasinghe, chairman of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, accused the BBC of airing reports biased toward the Tamil rebels.


"This is a critical period in Sri Lanka," Samarasinghe told The Associated Press in Colombo. "We are fighting against ruthless terrorists and we can’t allow foreign media to carry biased news."


Chapman said the BBC aimed for "comprehensive and balanced" coverage and adheres to editorial values including "impartiality, editorial independence and seeking a relevant range of views on any topic."

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