Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation accused of disrupting air traffic

Regulation & Policy

The use of unauthorized frequency bands by the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is putting air traffic in danger in the Indian Ocean region, the African Press Agency (APA) has learned. The accusation has recently been made by aircraft pilots who argue that they are having a lot of difficulties contacting airport communication towers in Mauritius, Reunion, the Mauritian dependency of Rodrigues and Seychelles and that this situation is putting the planes and the life of crew members and passengers in danger.

At first the pilots thought that the interference was caused by radio communications coming from the island of Diego Garcia where the Americans have a huge air force base. But an official of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) who requested anonymity revealed on Friday that the culprit is the MBC which has started using certain frequency bands without the prior authorization of the ICTA in order to launch a digital television in Rodrigues on 20 December.

The official added that members of the ICTA would be meeting urgently on Saturday to resolve the problem. He added that it will now take more than two months before Rodrigues will be connected to digital TV as ICTA will have to study which frequencies are available and if they do not interfere with other radio communications. He added that the MBC will need the approval of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) before using any frequency.

For his part, Fareed Jangeerkhan, the President of the administrative board of the MBC who just came back from Rodrigues, indicated on Friday that the launch will go on as scheduled on 20 December as nobody has as yet informed the MBC of the so-called interference. He added that tests are already being carried out to launch digital TV in Rodrigues.