The United Kingdom’s communication regulator Ofcom (The Office of Communications) reportedly cancelled the license of China’s state TV channel, China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Thursday after it found, upon investigation, that the channel was controlled by China’s ruling Communist Party.
Ofcom revoked the UK license for CGTN, an English language international Chinese channel, that had been available on free and pay-TV in the country.
Ofcom received complaints demanding probe into ownership of CGTN
Ofcom started an investigation against CGTN after it received a complaint from a human rights group named Safeguard Defenders demanding a probe into the channel’s ownership. Several other complaints against the channel reportedly alleging violation of rules on fairness and accuracy are being considered by Ofcom.
One of the complaints was filed by former British consulate employee in Hong Kong who alleged that he was detained and tortured by Chinese police for information on protestors. Another complaint was filed by a British investigator who alleged being forced to give a confession while imprisoned in China.
Ofcom found after investigation that the CGTN was controlled by the Communist Party of China
According to reports, Ofcom found after investigation that Star China Media Limited, the entity that holds CGTN’s license, did not have editorial responsibility for the channel’s output which is required as per licensing rules. Star China Media Limited was reportedly the distributor of the channel and none of the employees involved in day-to-day operations or decision-making was its employees. Ofcom reportedly rejected an application to transfer the license to CGTN Corporation because the control of the channel by the Communist Party of China was not permitted under the country’s broadcasting law.
According to Ofcom, the CGTN was provided the time to comply but it failed to do so. “Following careful consideration, taking account of all the facts and the broadcaster’s and audience’s rights to freedom of expression, we have decided it is appropriate to revoke the license for CGTN to broadcast in the UK”, Ofcom was quoted as saying.
China accused BBC of ‘fake news’ coverage of Covid-19
Following the action of Ofcom, China responded by accusing the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of ‘fake news’ coverage of Covid-19 and demanded a public apology. The Chinese Foreign Ministry complained about coverage by BBC broadcast on January 29 alleging that the BBC linked the Covid-19 pandemic with politics and reiterated theories about Chinese cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak. China alleged that BBC used a video clip of an anti-terrorism exercise to say that the Chinese virus prevention department had used violence to enforce the law.
“China urges the BBC Beijing bureau to take China’s position seriously,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said adding that the BBC should “stop harbouring ideological bias, stop smearing China, uphold professional ethics, fair reporting on China”.