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Friday, August 22, 2008

IDF shuts down al-Beeb

Acting on orders from the Communications Ministry, the IDF has shut down an illegal BBC transmitter in Hebron that was transmitting on a frequency allocated to it by the 'Palestinian Authority' that interfered with air traffic control at Ben Gurion Airport. Because this is al-Beeb and not the typical pirate radio station, the Communications Ministry is working on a solution that will allow the station to broadcast again. In the past, foreign airlines have threatened to suspend flights into Ben Gurion due to interference with air traffic control frequencies.
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."
In April 2007, the IDF nearly shot down a packed Continental Airlines 777 which failed to contact the control tower. No explanation was given for why the jet did not contact the control tower. Given past issues, it is possible that there was interference with communications between the flight and the control tower.


At 9:41 PM, Blogger Findalis said...

Now if we can get CNN shut down too, then kick both out of Israel it would be a good thing.


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