Sydney, Mar 15: A growing electronic bombardment by Beijing has now extended to the jamming of Australia’s radio news broadcasts in Asia.
The move is threatening to derail delicate negotiations for ABC News to win television rights in China.
ABC managing director Mar Scott and chairman James Spigelman are expected to visit China next month to launch a major children’s programme co-production with Chinese state television.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the trip is also another chance to lobby Chinese officials in long-frustrated efforts for the ABC to win access rights for television broadcasts in the 1.3 billion-strong market.
But the goal has been further complicated after China was accused of deliberately jamming Radio Australia broadcasts in Asia over recent weeks, a move that will also compound fears about Beijing’s aggressive attempts to hack Western computer networks, the report said.
US President Barack Obama accused hackers of stealing billions of dollars in industrial secrets and singled out China for the toughest criticism to date over the issue.
The jamming of Radio Australia, extending to the BBC World Service and the US Voice of America, is said to be the first time China has set out to disrupt English-language services in the region.
The BBC has condemned the interference, saying it was “designed to disrupt audiences’ free access to news and information”.
It admitted it was impossible to pinpoint the source of the jamming, but said the ”extensive and co-ordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China”.
The ABC has not itself drawn attention to the disruption but, asked on Thursday, a spokeswoman said the network strongly supported the free flow of information and objected to interference of any broadcasters’ transmissions, the report added. (ANI)