Burundi Bans BBC And VOA Because Of Alleged False Reporting

9 April 2019

Regulation & Policy

Burundi has revealed that it has banned the U.K. public broadcaster BBC and also indefinitely suspended Voice of America (VOA), moves that international broadcasters and campaigners have described as a blow to press freedom.

Burundi's media regulator National Communications Council (CNC) cancelled the BBC's license and accused it of broadcasting a documentary that it said was untrue and had damaged the country's reputation.

The Central African nation also extended an existing suspension on VOA because the broadcaster had decided to work with radio journalist Patrick Nduwimana, who the government had accused of having allegedly participated in a failed coup in 2015.

Both broadcasters were initially suspended for six months, in May last year. At the time they were both accused of unprofessional conduct and breaching press laws. They have both been off the air in Burundi ever since that initial suspension.

Media regulators in the country have been warned against journalists supplying either the VOA or BBC with news.

The BBC has issued a statement saying that the Burundi government’s unwarranted decision to ban the BBC and indefinitely suspend Voice of America strikes a severe blow to media freedom, and the BBC strongly condemns the move.

The U.K public broadcaster said that it is essential for people around the world to have access to accurate, independent and impartial journalism, including the over 1.3 million people in Burundi who rely on BBC news.

Last year the BBC aired a documentary about what it said were secret torture and detention sites in Burundi. The government of Burundi dismissed the report, and the BBC said that it stood by its journalism.

The Director VOA, Amanda Bennett said that VOA is alarmed that reporters in Burundi are now banned from communicating with VOA and the news broadcaster believes that these continuing threats to journalists undermine press freedom in Burundi.

BBC and VOA’s broadcasts continue on short wave frequencies available to anyone inside the country with access to the necessary radio.

Source: Daily Sabah