Michael Ike Dibie with DENG MACHOL
Authorities in South Sudan’s capital, Juba has shutdown the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) relay stations in the country for not paying accumulated debts for last three years.
BBC relay stations Arabic and English in Juba and Wau on 88. 2 have been off air for close to two weeks now.
South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), Managing Director James Magok Chilim, said the BBC had ignored requests to “pay debts” for last three years, despite a reminder in January.
In a statement issued by South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, it is alleged that BBC has been using the SSBC facility for 3 years without paying.
“SSBC gave them a verbal warning in March, 2018 and they ignored it. SSBC gave them several notices in writing through all communications channels but they ignored,” the statement read.
The state-owned broadcasting medium, SSBC, called this a breach of contract.
The BBC has been using SSBC facilities since 2008 in an agreement subject to renewal every year.
The statement clearly confirms that the BBC relay stations in Juba and Wau will not go back on air until they have cleared their arrears.
“If they want to move away from SSBC premises, they are free after paying all the money. Failure to pay, we will sue the BBC,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the British Broadcasting Corporation has said that it is aware it has been switched off in Juba and Wau.
In a statement, the BBC said it regretted SSBC’s decision to stop broadcasting “its news services to an audience of more than 400,000 in South Sudan.”
The corporation was working hard to reach an accommodation with SSBC to restore the service, it added.
However, Wesley Maritim, the BBC Business Development manager of East and Southern Africa, said the international media house is working to resolve the issue.
“I am aware that we have been switched off in South Sudan. There are issues we are trying to resolve with the ministries and the media bodies in the country,” Maritim said as quoted Eye radio in Juba.
The amount of money the BBC owes the SSBC is still unknown, but SSBC threatened to sue the BBC should the broadcaster fails to pay its bill.
However, the media outlets in the East Africa’s youngest nation have increasingly come under tight control, including the freedom of press and restriction of journalists from the relevant regulators since the civil war erupted last four years.
First Published by African News