DHARAMSHALA, February 26: The BBC “strongly” condemned the jamming of its radio broadcasts in China, calling the action “designed to disrupt audiences' free access to news and information."
In a statement released on Monday, the British broadcasters, while noting that it was not possible to determine the exact origin of the blocking, said that the "extensive and co-ordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China.”
It was not the first time international news broadcasters have complained of disruption to its services in China, which is listed at number 173 out of 179 countries on the World Press Freedom Index compiled by campaign group Reporters Without Borders.
Apart from BBC, which has experienced “several instances of satellite services being jammed in recent years,” the New York Times, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera have also been at the receiving end of China’s intolerance of free and fair reporting.
Tibetan language radio broadcasts and websites on Tibet’s current affairs based outside Tibet have been severely blocked by Chinese authorities.
Tenzin Peldon, Editor-in-Chief of the Dharamshala based popular Tibetan radio service Voice of Tibet notes that for them, jamming of their signals beamed throughout Tibet by Chinese authorities is their “biggest challenge.”
“We are constantly fighting China’s attempts at keeping our voice from reaching inside Tibet,” Peldon told Phayul. “For us the jamming of our broadcast is our biggest challenge.”
The radio service, which broadcasts news on current Tibetan affairs and speeches of the Dalai Lama in Tibetan and Mandarin, has also been a victim of cyber attacks originating from China.
“During sensitive time, like the March 10 Tibetan National Uprising Day, our signals get heavily botched, especially across cities and towns throughout Tibet,” Peldon added. “Our webiste has also been compromised and rendered useless with DDoS attacks originating from inside China.”
In recent months, Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet, which has been at the centre of the ongoing wave of self-immolations, intensified their campaign on banning satellite dishes as part of the government’s wider clampdown to stifle information on the self-immolations.
The satellite equipments used by Tibetans to receive foreign radio and TV programmes are the only source of information inside Tibet besides the state sponsored propaganda news.
Chinese authorities have issued public notices banning the sell, purchase, and use of all “illegal satellite equipment” and initiated a massive drive destroying and burning hundreds of seized satellite equipments. Monetary fines in addition to “other consequences” have been announced in the event of Tibetans failing to surrender satellite dishes.
Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, last month said the crackdown on satellite dishes in Tibetan areas “appear not only to be a deterrent against self-immolation protests but also a part of the intensified ‘patriotic education’ campaigns and the ‘Nine Must Haves’ programme under which government aid will be provided in terms of electricity, roads and pension in return for installing state provided satellite dishes and newspapers all of which feature state-controlled news and views.”