BBC’s u-turn irks gov’t

• Kinyarwanda broadcasts risk  total closure in Rwanda  KIGALI –The Ministry of Information has expressed its disappointment towards the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC)’s declarations that it will be business as usual on the radio’s Kinyarwanda programming.
Information minister Louise Mushikiwabo
Information minister Louise Mushikiwabo

• Kinyarwanda broadcasts risk  total closure in Rwanda 

KIGALI –The Ministry of Information has expressed its disappointment towards the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC)’s declarations that it will be business as usual on the radio’s Kinyarwanda programming.

Contrary to what the government of Rwanda said was agreed upon before the programme in question was restored back on the airwaves, the head of BBC French and Great Lakes languages services, Razvan Scortea, told Gahuzamiryango programme on Wednesday that there will be no change in their editorial line and that they would continue to work as before.

“It`s not a question of changing our editorial course, it will always be the BBC editorial course and we will make sure that it is implemented correctly,” he said over the controversial programme that had just been allowed to reach its Rwandan audience once again.

Information minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that the government was both surprised and disappointed that the BBC would make such a declaration just a day after it was allowed back on air.

“My government considers this as a sign of bad faith,” she said, adding that is a way of misrepresenting what they had agreed upon and that has been put in writing as the BBC commitment.

The letter signed by Jerry Timmins, BBC head of Africa and Middle East region, of which The New Times has obtained a copy, clearly indicates that BBC committed itself to revising the way they used to deal with issues involving Rwanda and its history.

“You have my assurance that I do appreciate 5that we are broadcasting in an environment where sensitivities are extremely acute, given the horror of genocide and the massive effort, which is still ongoing, to work towards full reconciliation,” wrote Timmins.

“The BBC has producer guidelines which emphasize that the BBC is not to be a platform for incitement to hatred or violence. We shall re-emphasize that to producers and Editors, who have responsibility for our output to the Great Lakes Region and specifically Rwanda.

“The BBC will strengthen the Editorial oversight of the output of the Great Lakes Region. This will reflect the approach, outlined in the BBC Producer guidelines, which ensures that where there is the potential for violence or where sectarian or ethnic divisions could be inflamed, programme content is thoroughly checked to avoid any such consequences.”

Mushikiwabo reiterated that in their correspondences with the BBC, the government has made it clear that this issue should not linger, and that any more deliberate action on the part of the BBC editors to redefine or tamper with the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi would result into definitive and unconditional cessation of their Kinyarwanda programming.

She however disclosed that she had requested an explanation on behalf of the BBC after their declarations, and was hopeful to hear from them soon.

Kigali has over time accused the London-based media house of continuously propagating heinous messages by giving airtime to people who are accused of harbouring and spreading genocide ideology, a fact that is described by Minister Mushikiwabo as “totally unacceptable.”

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