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Authorities continue to jam international radio stations during Olympic Games

(RSF/IFEX) - The Chinese authorities are continuing to jam the Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur-language broadcast of several international radio stations although they promised to respect press freedom and the free flow of information during the Olympic Games, Reporters Without Borders said on 19 August 2008.

"An international media outcry forced the Chinese government to stop blocking access to websites, but there has been no similar gesture towards the international radio stations such as the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet, which are being jammed within China," Reporters Without Borders said.

"The right of foreign journalists to unrestricted Internet access has been partially guaranteed, but what about the hundreds of millions of Chinese, Tibetans and Uyghurs who are denied independent news and information," the press freedom organisation said. "How will the Olympic Games have helped to loosen the government's grip on the news media?"

The organisation added: "It was partly in order to draw attention to this censorship that Reporters Without Borders organised a clandestine FM broadcast in Beijing on 8 August."

Reporters Without Borders has confirmed from various sources in China that the jamming of Chinese-language broadcasts by the BBC, VOA, RFA and Sound of Hope (a station linked to the Falun Gong) and Tibetan and Uyghur-language broadcasts by RFA and Voice of Tibet has not stopped before or during the Olympic Games. The jamming of Tibetan-language programmes has even been stepped up in recent months.

Except for one reporter with RFA's Tibetan service, journalists with the BBC, VOA and RFA have been able to get visas to go to China during the Olympic Games but their potential listeners have not been permitted audible reception of their broadcasts.

The staff of Voice of Tibet, a station based in Norway that broadcasts Tibetan and Chinese-language programmes to Tibet, report an increase in jamming of their three short-wave frequencies. The Chinese authorities use eight broadcasts from six different points within China (Beijing, Xian, Urumqi, Kashi, Hainan and Fuzhou) to make Voice of Tibet inaudible. Around 100 antennae have been installed in Tibet to jam international radio broadcasts.

"Our three frequencies are registered internationally for exclusive use for the broadcasting of our station's programming," Voice of Tibet director Oystein Alme said. "But no one is capable of defending us against the Chinese jamming and, what's more, our website is still blocked."

Complaints have been filed with the international body that regulates broadcasting but the Chinese government cites "technical problems" and has never kept its promises to respect the relevant international regulations.

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