Ofcom revokes Chinese broadcaster CGTN’s UK licence

3 weeks ago
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Chinese officials launched the international channel in 2016

Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo

China’s state-owned broadcaster has had its licence to broadcast in the UK revoked by media watchdog Ofcom.

Ofcom said the company that owns the UK licence for China Global Television Network (CGTN) doesn’t have day-to-day control over the channel, which is against its rules.

Star China Media Limited (SCML), which owns the licence, “did not have editorial responsibility” over the English-language satellite news channel, Ofcom said.

“As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service, and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee.”

In the UK, broadcasting laws say licensees must have control over their service and its editorial policies.

Ofcom said an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation is “the ultimate decision maker” over programmes.

But the regulator said it was unable to transfer the licence to that company because it is “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law”.

‘Efforts have been exhausted’

Such a transfer was also not possible because “crucial information was missing from the application”, while CGTN had “repeatedly failed to respond to important questions” and had not carried out a restructure, according to Ofcom.

The regulator said it had given the satellite news channel “significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules”. It added: “Those efforts have now been exhausted.”

The action to revoke the licence comes seven months after Ofcom found CGTN in breach of broadcasting regulations for airing a UK citizen’s allegedly forced confession.

In July, Ofcom ruled that CGTN had been “unjust” to show footage of investigator Peter Humphrey “appearing to confess to a criminal offence”. The channel was named CCTV News at the time of the broadcasts in 2013 and 2014.

And last May, CGTN was found to have breached the UK’s broadcasting code by failing to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of the Hong Kong protests.

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