DUSHANBE , January 25, Asia-Plus -- The British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) FM radio service in Dushanbe , Tajikistan , was suspended January 11, and a U.S. diplomat says he hopes the interruption in programming is only temporary.

“The United States is aware that the head of the Tajik Committee for TV and Radio Broadcasting denied any political motivations behind the suspension,” said Kyle Scott, Charg? D’affaires for the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“We hope that this is indeed the case, and that the suspension of BBC programming is only temporary and due merely to a bureaucratic oversight,” Scott said in a January 19 statement to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna , Austria .

A January 13 report by the OSCE Center in Dushanbe found that the FM service was suspended because the British broadcasting service had not properly registered with Tajikistan ’s Justice Ministry.

“Unfortunately, BBC was given very little notice about the need to re-register,” Scott said.  He noted that Tajikistan , as a participating state, has accepted OSCE standards that state “… independent media are essential to a free and open society and accountable systems of government and are of particular importance in safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms.” 

“The United States calls on Tajikistan to continue its efforts to take all necessary steps to ensure the basic conditions for free and independent media,” Scott said.

He added that “with a Tajik presidential election scheduled for the end of 2006, it is crucial that independent media be allowed to operate unhindered in Tajikistan well in advance of election day in order for the election to meet OSCE standards.”