Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Govt. asks Radio Sagarmatha not to re-broadcast BBC

Kathmandu Nov 30-Within hours of the Supreme Court verdict not to implement its order to stop the transmission of the Radio Sagarmatha FM the government on Tuesday has asked Radio Sagarmatha not to re-broadcast BBC Nepali Service and “programmes banned by the National Broadcast Act 2049 B. S.

Chairman of Radio Sagarmatha FM management committee, Laxman Upreti, said they received a fax from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) at 5:20 p. m. today asking the station resume its transmission and air programmes except BBC Nepali and other programmes banned by the law nepalnews repaorts .

Upreti said Radio Sagarmatha has been re-broadcasting BBC Nepali Service for the last eight years with the permission from the government. In a notice, Radio Sagarmatha said it was studying the legality of the government’s latest order and would resort to legal treatment.

The radio station resumed its transmission Tuesday afternoon after the Supreme Court verdict.

Earlier, a reporter asked BBC officials"What will the BBC do if the government hampers your radio broadcast in future objecting to your news stories?" , who were briefing journalists on the launch of the BBC World Service at a press conference on Nov 5, 2004.

Chief of BBC Nepal Service Khagendra Nepali and the then executive director of Radio Nepal Sailendra Raj Sharma had dismissed the question as 'hypothetical".

BBC World Service was airing its programmes round-the-clock after hiring an FM station of State-owned Radio Nepal.

BBC World Service suddenly went off air hours before the government shut down Sagarmatha FM, Sunday, to prevent the announced interview of Maoist leader Prachanda. The blackout lasted for nearly 12 hours.

Radio Nepal's 103 FM started airing BBC programmes only late Monday morning. But officials at Radio Nepal deny the government hampered the service. "There is no relation between the government action on Sagarmatha FM and the disturbance that occurred at 103 FM," said acting executive director of Radio Nepal, Rabin Sharma.

"It was purely a technical problem and once the problem was solved, the service resumed."
But for that, the British embassy had to give a call to Radio Nepal officials. Khagendra Nepali from London said Radio Nepal explained the situation to the BBC. "They said it was due to technical problems."

The government has been continuously hampering FM BBC World Service broadcasts after Feb 1.

"We have sought explanations from Radio Nepal about the censoring," a source at the BBC said. "We are yet to receive a reply."

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