Reporters without Borders criticises termination of BBC Urdu’s show Sairbeen

LONDON/ISLAMABAD: Reporters without Borders criticised the termination of BBC Urdu’s hit show Sairbeen. Sairbeen had been suspended since October 2020.

“We have experienced interference in our news bulletins since October 2020 and gave AAJ TV ample time to return the programme to air,” James Angus, who serves as BBC World’s Service director said. Angus said that any interference constitutes a “serious breach of trust with our audiences.”

Pakistan’s media landscape has seen increasing restrictions ever since the Imran Khan led PTI government took power.

Pakistan has also fallen 3 spots in the Press Freedom Index and is now at the 145th place out of 180 countries.

According to Daniel Bastard, head of the Asia Pacific Desk at France based Reporters without Borders: “By deciding to terminate its contract with AAJ TV, the BBC has refused to bow to the dictates that the Pakistani authorities impose on the broadcast media.”

“We call on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to stop interfering in the news media’s editorial decisions. Such practices are fundamentally anti-democratic and recall the worst periods of military dictatorship in Pakistan.” 

At the moment, the BBC’s daily Urdu TV news can still be accessed online, however, increased regulations and restrictions on the media landscape discourage international broadcasters from investing in operations in Pakistan.

Aliya Nazki, the host of the programme tweeted: “#Sairbeen will still air, live and on demand, on @BBCUrdu’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and on http://bbcurdu.com. We’re going nowhere :)”

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