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As UNTV Goes Silent on S. Sudan, FUNCA Presses Questions, Threats & Blocks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 8, updated -- When the Security Council met Monday about South Sudan, the UN didn't broadcast any sound. On screen, envoy Hilde Johnson's mouth was moving. But nothing could be heard.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access took to Twitter to ask why; the question was seconded. To his credit, UN official Stephane Dujarric acknowledged a “tech glitch” and asked for patience.

  But he and the UN have yet to answer why the noon briefing was not webcast live. [Update: Dujarric says it was, seemingly referring to "EZTV" and not how the outside world access the UN - a concern of FUNCA's, including with regard to the General Assembly, now with no seats for public or press.]  Some who came to complain at noon wondered aloud if this might be UN censorship.

  Inner City Press, FUNCA co-founder, asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokeperson Martin Nesirky if the snafus were related to the UN hiring a low-bid contractor TeamPeople which laid off many long time workers. See previous Inner City Press coverage, here.

  Back at the Security Council stakeout, US Acting Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo came out to speak of South Sudan. But the microphone was too low, and the new quite young boom microphone TeamPerson didn't know it was his job to raise it.

  No one could hear anything; an AP reporter leaned in through the UNTV filming box to extend his microphone. To this has the UN descended.

Footnote: FUNCA began its new @FUNCA_questions feed today. The UN mission in Mali @MINUSMA responded -- more on Mali in another story later today -- and then Dujarric, also to @InnerCityPress. Only one problem: Dujarric previously blocked @InnerCityPress on Twitter. There is a history to this, too long for this piece.

  Meanwhile the Department of Public Information has still not rescinded its June 24 threat to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' acccreditation for merely posting a single Free UN Coalition for Access sign, when it allows UNCA two signs and much more. We'll have more on this -- and on South Sudan, if despite the UN “black out” we can find out more. Watch this site.

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