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Tuesday, Sept 22
Britain settles transmission row with Malaysia
By Paul Majendie

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Reuters) - British broadcasters said on Tuesday they were able to transmit television footage of anti-government disturbances in Malaysia after officials with Queen Elizabeth complained about apparent jamming.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook intervened over the issue and told Malaysia to ensure that Queen Elizabeth was not dragged during her state visit into political turmoil over the arrest of sacked finance minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Britain on Monday had complained to Kuala Lumpur over the apparent jamming of television pictures showing images of the street protests which riot police broke up with tear gas and water cannon.

A Foreign Office spokesman in London said on Monday that Malaysian authorities had jammed the transmission of images by the British Broadcasting Corp and Independent Television News.

''We can confirm this is happening -- the jamming of the BBC and ITN signals -- and we are urgently pursuing the matter with the Malaysian authorities,'' the spokesman said.

Later on Monday, the row appeared to have been resolved with the BBC and ITN sending full packages to London for their bulletins.

''The feed went out O.K. There were pictures of the protests and of Anwar's arrest,'' a BBC source said. ''Pictures are being sent smoothly now,'' an ITN source said.

A spokesman for the state-owned International Broadcasting Centre in Kuala Lumpur said the transmission of some of the images had been held up but not on purpose.

''It was caused by a momentary power failure,'' the Star newspaper quoted the spokesman as saying.

Cook, accompanying the queen on her four-day state visit, stressed to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ''the importance of ensuring that it (the state visit) should not be caught up in internal controversy.''

Malaysia tightened the security net around the British monarch as Kuala Lumpur police clashed with anti-government protesters for a second straight day on Monday and the draconian Internal Security Act was used to round up Anwar allies.

Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas at several thousand Anwar supporters who congregated around a courthouse where they had expected the former finance minister to be arraigned. He never appeared in court.

The queen had flown to Asia eager to spruce up her image as a more modern, caring figure who has sought to modernise the 1,000-year-old British monarchy after the death of the hugely popular ''People's Princess'' Diana.

In the oil-rich sultanate of Brunei, home to one of the world's last absolute monarchs, she spoke of the need to modernise and adopted a ''meet-the-people'' image.

But in Malaysia, royal aides and foreign office officials have been more concerned with delicate diplomatic manoeuvres to make sure she was not sucked into the political maelstrom here.

None of the programme has been changed -- she closed the Commonwealth Games to prolonged cheers on Monday night -- but the carefully stage-managed image-building has played second fiddle to the drama being played out on the streets.

For Mahathir, the man who has ruled Malaysia for 17 years, this was to have been his time to savour on the international stage, playing host to athletes from around the world as well as the queen.

But Malaysia has now been hit by political as well as economic turmoil and the television pictures being beamed to the world are of demonstrators running through the streets of the capital calling for his resignation.