Ofcom revokes Chinese media outlet CGTN’s broadcast licence

Ofcom has revoked Chinese state media outlet CGTN’s broadcast licence in the UK.

The regulator said that the network’s owner, Star China Media Limited (SCML), “did not have editorial responsibility” over the channel and “as such, does not meet the legal requirements” to be a broadcast licensee.

Instead, Ofcom pointed to China Global Television Network Corporation as the “ultimate decision maker” with the company “controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law.”

The regulator first found CGTN to be in breach of broadcasting regulations in July 2020, when it broadcast a forcibly obtained confession from former British journalist Peter Humphrey.

Ofcom said that it had given the broadcaster “significant time to come into compliance” but “efforts had been exhausted” to get the network to respond to important questions and carry out a mandated restructure. 

The Humphrey incident was not the first time that CGTN had come into conflict with Ofcom. In May of last year, the broadcaster was found to have breached the UK’s broadcasting code by failing to preserve impartiality in covering the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

In retaliation, Chinese officials have lashed out against the UK and the BBC in particular.

Minutes after the licence was revoked, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement demanding an apology from the BBC over it’s coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in China, and the country’s illegal mass detention of Uighur Muslims. The ministry has accused the BBC of pushing “fake news” and “rehashed theories about covering up in China.”

Chinese ministry and media spokespeople similarly took to social media in order to condemn the BBC, with some calling for the BBC – which is barred from broadcasting in China but still maintains a presence in the country – to be kicked out of the country.

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