Sudan has pulled FM broadcasts: BBC

9th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The BBC said Monday its Arabic service had been taken off FM radio in northern Sudan, adding that it was in talks with Khartoum on restoring its broadcasts.

The BBC World Service said it had been told by the Sudanese government that FM services in four cities -- the capital Khartoum, Port Sudan, Wad Madani and Al-Ubayad -- had been discontinued earlier in the day.

"The BBC has been, and still is, in discussions with the Sudanese government with a view to continuing FM broadcasts if at all possible," it said in a statement.

The British Broadcasting Corporation has a weekly audience of four million people in Sudan.

"The BBC has a long history of broadcasting in Sudan and for more than 10 years has maintained a presence on FM thanks to the support of the regulatory system in Sudan," said Jerry Timmins, the BBC Head of Africa.

"We hope that we will be able to continue broadcasting at some point and we are very disappointed that the Sudanese people in northern Sudan are no longer able to access the impartial news and current affairs of BBC Arabic on FM radio."

The BBC said its services in Arabic could still be accessed online, on shortwave radio and via satellite broadcasts.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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