IFJ Deplores Interference with BBC Broadcasts in Sri Lanka


The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed to learn that the Sri Lanka

Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) has been blocking and in other ways interfering

with BBC World Service programs that SLBC has contracted to carry over its FM



The SLBC and the BBC have had a

contractual relationship whereby the latter provides programming in English, Sinhala and Tamil for rebroadcast through the

former’s FM channels. According to a press release issued by the BBC, the SLBC - Sri

Lanka’s national broadcaster - has been

blocking and in other ways interfering with these broadcasts, in violation of the agreed contractual terms.


Between November 27 and early

January, there were reportedly 17

cases of the BBC Tamil broadcast being blocked or interfered with in other

ways. The BBC Sinhala service recorded eight such instances.


A formal protest seemingly made no

substantive difference, following which the BBC suspended its programming for

the SLBC, effective today.


“The IFJ believes that if the BBC is

deemed good for delivering news and information to the Sri Lankan audience in

times of peace, it should also be

deemed good in a time of war,” IFJ

General Secretary Aidan White said.


“The SLBC should fully honour its

contractual commitments. This manner of picking and choosing what broadcasts it

would like to carry in accordance with the convenience of the moment is contrary

to all notions of the right to free speech and the public right to information.”


The BBC’s action comes at a time

when reporting by local and foreign media on the war in Sri Lanka is

under intense attack from senior government ministers who allege partisan reporting on the

situation regarding civilian casualties and suffering in areas of conflict

between government forces and Tamil separatist insurgents.


On February 1, Defence Secretary

Gotabaya Rajapaksa warned that foreign media organisations would face “dire

consequences” and be “chased out” of the country if they did not behave

“responsibly”. He singled out CNN, Al-Jazeera and the BBC.


Several of Sri Lanka’s most well-known

journalists have left the country fearing for their lives following the murder

of Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor in

chief of the Sunday Leader, on January 8.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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