BBC World News has been banned from China in an escalation of tensions between the UK and the Asian superpower.
The ban comes days after UK broadcast regulator Ofcom revoked the licence of Chinese state media outlet CGTN in the country. The broadcaster’s owner Star China Media Limited was found to not have “editorial responsibility” over the channel’s content, suggesting that it is a tool of the state apparatus.
China immediately reacted by lashing out against the BBC, and in particular its reporting of the Covid-19 pandemic and the mass detention of Uighur Muslims.
Going one step further, the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration has ruled that the BBC World News coverage of China “seriously violated” regulations and that it did not cover the news in a manner that was “truthful and fair.” As such, the channel’s application to air for another year will not be accepted, the body said.
Reuters reports that the channel, which already had transmission limited to a small number of hotels and homes, has already gone blank in the country.
The channel has also been dropped by Radio Television Hong Kong, which officially operates separately from Beijing. RTHK is the only publicly funded media outlet in China, with editorial independence guaranteed by its charter. The outlet however has come under increased pressure from the Chinese state as its grip over the former British territory tightgens.
Responding to the ban, the BBC stated that it is “the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour.”
The episode has also spilled out into the world of mainstream politics. British foreign minister condemned the decision and said: “China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom. China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”