LONDON, February 4, 2021 (AFP) – With the Chinese Communist Party taking control of its programs, the British Audiovisual Regulatory Authority, on Thursday, revoked the broadcast license for the Chinese news channel CGTN, which exacerbated tensions between London and Beijing.
The audiovisual regulator Ofcom explained that the license had been granted to Star China Media Limited, that it “had no editorial responsibility for the content broadcast by CGTN,” and that it could not have been transferred to the entity actually responsible for the channel because it was “controlled by the Chinese Communist Party”.
This decision comes in the context of the increasing diplomatic tension between London and Beijing, especially about reducing democratic freedoms in the former British colony of Hong Kong, which is guaranteed. The United Kingdom maintains the terms of its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Likewise, in 2020 Boris Johnson’s government banned the use of the telecom equipment of the Chinese giant Huawei in developing a 5G mobile phone network among accusations of control by the Beijing regime.
“We have given CGTN a lot of time to comply with regulations,” Ofcom said, which includes preventing an audiovisual license holder from coming under the control of a political body.
He added that this measure was “exhausted” and therefore “it is appropriate to revoke the CGTN license to broadcast in the UK”.
This decision runs the risk of worsening relations between the UK and China, which has also been damaged by London’s condemnation of Beijing’s treatment of the Muslim minority of Uighurs. The Chinese authorities condemned the attack, describing it as a “purely political attack,” and demanded the Executive Director of Johnson “to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Ofcom also announced that it would “soon” issue a criminal case against the Chinese channel for its partial and unfair coverage.
In July, the CGTN regulator singled out the treatment of a former British prisoner, journalist Peter Humphrey, while covering his detention in China.
Humphrey, who was working in China as an investigator for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison in August 2014 for violating Chinese privacy laws. He was released and deported in 2015.
Then the British denounced “unfair treatment” and “infringement of privacy” if the Chinese channel, then called CCTV News, broadcast two programs in August 2013 and July 2014 that were broadcast without his consent. An admission that was taken from him by force.
In May, Ofcom already accused CGTN of bias in its coverage of pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019.
Beijing routinely threatens retaliation against Western countries that act against its media operations, which have grown in complexity and scope over the years. Without mentioning the case, he warned of possible sanctions against the public broadcaster BBC in China.
Shortly before Ofcom announced its decision, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the BBC of spreading “false information” and “taking an ideological side” in a report at the end of January on the Coronavirus pandemic in China.
The entity demanded an apology and stated that it “reserves the right to take additional measures.”
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had broadcast a documentary in the United Kingdom accusing China of covering up the origins of the epidemic in Wuhan at the end of 2019.
The BBC responded in a statement, “We defend our accurate and fair information about events in China and completely reject these unfounded accusations of fake news or ideological bias.”
acc / mb
France Press agency