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16th December
2008
  

Censoring Jokers...

Sri Lanka jammed BBC World Service

BBC World Service Logo Reporters Without Borders deplores the latest cases of the Sri Lanka government censorship of international and local news media.

In the past few days, the BBC World Service has been jammed by the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) and one of the country's most outspoken newspapers, the Sunday Leader, has been forbidden to refer to the president's brother.

We are worried by the increase in direct and indirect censorship in Sri Lanka, Reporters Without Borders said. Coming after a broadcast media bill reintroducing news censorship, the selective blocking of BBC and Sunday Leader reports is disturbing. The authorities must accept the free flow of news even when it contradicts what officials are saying and irritates certain politicians.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship of parts of the BBC's Sinhala service on 10 December and 27 November. On 10 December, the authorities jammed a report about protests by politicians in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu who objected to being called jokers by the Sri Lankan army chief.

On 27 November, reports on a speech by the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels and a press conference by representatives of the Defence Watch website were rendered inaudible by the SLBC, which is contractually obliged to retransmit the BBC's Tamil and Sinhala programmes every day.

The SLBC has, since August, been broadcasting a programme immediately after the BBC programming to give the official Sri Lankan government take on what the BBC's journalists have just reported.

On 5 December, a judge ordered Leader Publications, the publisher of the Sunday Leader, not to print during two weeks any report whatsoever about the president's brother, defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who personally went to the court to accuse the press group of publishing slanderous reports about him. He is demanding 1 billion rupees (7 million euros) in damages.

 

10th February
2009
  

Update: Editorial Integrity...

BBC World Service to be withdrawn in Sri Lanka due to local censorship

BBC Workd Service logo The BBC World Service is to suspend its FM programming on the Sri Lankan national broadcaster following a row over censorship.

The corporation has accused SLBC of deliberate interference after it blocked news reports and programmes in English, Sinhala and Tamil on 17 different occasions between 27 November and early January.

On some occasions SLBC censored whole current affairs segments of BBC programming, compromising its editorial integrity, the corporation said.

The BBC World Service today confirmed that it will suspend services from tomorrow.

Director Nigel Chapman said: We have no choice but to suspend broadcasts until such time as SLBC can guarantee our programming is transmitted without interference.

In order to cover news events in the most comprehensive and balanced way for our audiences, the BBC adheres to specific editorial values that include impartiality, editorial independence and seeking a relevant range of views on any topic.

 

19th April
2010
  

Update: Unjammed...

BBC World Service restored to Sri Lanka

BBC Workd Service logoBBC World Service is to reinstate its FM programming on the Sri Lankan national broadcaster SLBC from Thursday 15 April. This will be the first BBC programming on the SLBC FM network for 14 months.

The BBC suspended its programmes in the English, Sinhala and Tamil languages on 10 February 2009, following deliberate interference in its broadcasts.

Director of BBC Global News, Peter Horrocks, said: We have been reassured by SLBC that our contractual agreement will be respected, which guarantees that our programmes in English, Sinhala, and Tamil are broadcast uninterrupted.

We are pleased that we can now offer listeners to the SLBC FM network the BBC programmes they used to enjoy. Our audiences understand that in order to cover news events in the most comprehensive and balanced way, the BBC adheres to specific editorial values that include impartiality, editorial independence and seeking a relevant range of views on any topic.