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BBC Interruption Amid Media 'Clampdown'

Opposition parties and NGOs organized a protest against pressure on broadcasters including RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, on March 15.
The BBC's local-language service in Kyrgyzstan experienced an unexplained interruption today, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported, sparking concerns the U.K.-funded broadcaster might share the fate of other media outlets suffering setbacks there.

One of three BBC broadcasts was unavailable today, although its 9:00 p.m. program was back on the air.

Aslan Kapai, a BBC Kyrgyz Service producer, told RFE/RL the service's 30-minute program at 8 p.m. Bishkek time was not available to Kyrgyz listeners.

He said no explanation has been given either by the BBC's affiliate stations or by Kyrgyz officials.

The BBC's Kyrgyz Service has been operating since 1996. It broadcasts a 30-minute program three times daily.

Seven correspondents in Kyrgyzstan work for the BBC's Kyrgyz Service while three others work in London. The BBC has a joint television project with Kyrgyzstan's National Television and Radio Corporation.

Since March 10, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz television and radio programs have been off the air in Bishkek and other parts of the country in what rights activists are calling a government clampdown on the media.