Israel shuts down BBC in Hebron

Alleged illegal radio transmitters shut down; interference with airport communications cited for move.

bbc 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
bbc 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The IDF shut down BBC radio transmitters in Hebron on Wednesday, acting on orders of the Communications Ministry and citing interference with communications at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The IDF Spokesman said the transmitters were illegal, adding that the Communications Ministry had found them to be jeopardizing contact between Ben-Gurion's control tower and passenger aircraft. BBC employees had raised the issue during a press conference held by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday. A government official said in response that in addition to the BBC's transmitters, a number of additional transmitters had been shut down, including some inside Israel, as they were "endangering civilian aviation, a problem we have been suffering from for a long time." The official added that the BBC was broadcasting on a wavelength allocated to it by the Palestinian Authority without prior coordination with the Communications Ministry. "We are now trying to solve the problem," the official said. In a statement, the BBC confirmed that its "FM broadcasts in the city of Hebron ceased late yesterday morning. The BBC understands that the Israeli Ministry of Communication instructed contractors, accompanied by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), to visit the transmission site and confiscate a transmitter and other equipment. We understand there were similar visits to two other private stations in the vicinity." The BBC added that it had had "no contact from the Israeli authorities relating to aircraft interference resulting from our FM broadcasts since broadcasts started in Hebron in March this year. The BBC has implemented technical protocols to prevent interference from its broadcasts, however there are any number of factors that could produce interference. "We have requested that our equipment be returned immediately. We are now in discussion with the Israeli authorities and are aiming to resolve this matter as soon as possible."