The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) interfered in BBC's World Service Frequency Modulation (FM) broadcasts in English and Tamil on Mar 16, 17 and 18. Despite a clear warning to the SLBC that such "continued interruption and interference" will not be tolerated, there was again an interruption on Mar 25.
Hence, BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks announced on Tuesday that both the English and Tamil services which were being broadcast via SLBC have been suspended with immediate effect.
"We regret the disruption in service to our loyal audiences in Sri Lanka, but such targeted interference in our programmes is a serious breach of trust with those audiences, which the BBC cannot allow. We spoke to SLBC last week about interference that took place on 16-18 March and warned them they were in breach of their broadcasting agreement," Horrocks said.
"Further disruption on Monday 25 March has left the BBC with no alternative but to suspend the service with immediate effect," he noted.
He stressed that if any news segments being relayed by the BBC were causing concern, the SLBC "should take them up with us, as we have invited them to do, and not interfere directly with broadcasts in ways that are unacceptable to the BBC and misleading to our audiences".
The suspension of services means that listeners in Sri Lanka now only have the option of accessing the British broadcaster on shortwave radio. They can also visit the BBC website.
This is not the first time that BBC has stopped its FM broadcasts to SLBC. A similar suspension was effected on Feb 10, 2009 as BBC's news reports in Tamil, English and Sinhala were blocked by the Lankan broadcaster.
However, SLBC chairman Hudson Samarasinghe claimed that he had a responsibility to censor "fabricated news items about Sri Lanka" during the civil war in the .