BBC suspends Sri Lanka programming over ‘interference’

February 9, 2009 (AFP) – The BBC has suspended its FM programming to Sri Lanka’s national broadcaster because of what it claimed was “deliberate interference”, it said Monday. In a statement, the BBC said its programmes and news reports in English, Sinhala and Tamil had been blocked by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), and had not been broadcast to listeners in the island nation.

The BBC’s accusations come as Sri Lanka’s military has attempted to crush Tamil Tiger rebels, whose decades-long armed campaign for an independent homeland has recently suffered huge territorial losses during a major army offensive.

The broadcaster said it had expressed its concerns over the interference directly to SLBC chairman Hudson Samarsinghe in letters and meetings through December and January.

“We are dismayed that the BBC’s programmes in the English, Sinhala and Tamil languages have been interrupted on the SLBC network,” said Nigel Chapman, director of the BBC World Service, the BBC’s international radio arm.

“We have no choice but to suspend broadcasts until such time as SLBC can guarantee our programming is transmitted without interference.”

The BBC’s