Sudan suspends BBC Arabic on FM radio

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BBC News Africa reported on 9 August 2010 that Sudan has halted BBC Arabic broadcasts on FM radio stations in four northern cities, including the capital Khartoum.

The move was not related to the content of broadcasts, but to breaches of the accord governing BBC activities. These included bringing satellite equipment in through diplomatic channels and working in Southern Sudan without central government approval.

The BBC says it hopes ongoing discussions with the authorities in Khartoum will get it back on air.   The other cities affected by the suspension are Port Sudan, Wad Medani and El Obeid. Sudan's Information Minister Kamal Obaid said the disputes went back two years and a framework deal with the British government was now needed.

Jerry Timmins, the BBC World Service's head of Africa, said the organisation had broadcast on FM in Sudan for 10 years. "We are very disappointed that the Sudanese people in northern Sudan are no longer able to access the impartial news and current affairs of BBC Arabic on FM radio," he said.

Southern Sudan enjoys considerable autonomy under the terms of a 2005 peace deal, which ended a two-decade civil war between the north and south, and is due to vote in a referendum on independence next year. The BBC has a weekly audience of four million in Sudan.