UK revokes license of Chinese state-owned broadcaster CGTN

·3-min read

London, Feb 4 (PTI) China's state-owned broadcaster CGTN lost its broadcast licence in the UK on Thursday after the media regulator concluded that the news channel was ultimately controlled by the ruling Communist Party of China.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) is an international English-language satellite news channel controlled by the state.

'Our investigation concluded that Star China Media Limited (SCML), the licence-holder for the CGTN service, did not have editorial responsibility for CGTN’s output. As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service, and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee,' UK's media watchdog Ofcom said in a statement.

Ofcom said that SCML the company that owns the UK licence for CGTN does not have day-to-day control over the channel, which is against its rules.

'In addition, we have been unable to grant an application to transfer the licence to an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC). This is because crucial information was missing from the application, and because we consider that CGTNC would be disqualified from holding a licence, as it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,' it said.

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

The regulators also rejected a proposal by CGTN to transfer the license to a new entity after finding that it would ultimately be controlled by the Communist Party of China, and therefore be disqualified under UK law.

'We've provided CGTN with numerous opportunities to come into compliance, but it has not done so. We now consider it appropriate to withdraw the license for CGTN to broadcast in the UK,' an Ofcom spokesperson said.

'We have given CGTN significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules. Those efforts have now been exhausted,' Ofcom said in a statement.

'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 licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK,' it added.

The channel will be removed from UK airwaves with immediate effect. CGTN has the right to request a judicial review, according to an Ofcom spokesperson, and they could apply for another license in the future.

Ofcom previously ruled that CGTN repeatedly breached impartiality standards with its coverage of protests last year in Hong Kong, a former British colony.

CGTN was launched in 2016. It says it provides 'global audiences with accurate and timely news coverage as well as rich audiovisual services, promoting communication and understanding between China and the world, and enhancing cultural exchanges and mutual trust between China and other countries.' Headquartered in Beijing, CGTN has three production centres in Nairobi, Kenya, Washington D.C. and London.

Ofcom's decision will come as a serious blow for CGTN, which was hoping to use an expanded presence in London as the foothold for a substantial international operation, The Guardian newspaper reported.

There was no immediate response from CGTN.

The UK's relationship with China has worsened in recent times. The two have fallen out over issues including Hong Kong, tech giant Huawei and alleged human rights abuses against China's Uighur ethnic group in Xinjiang. PTI AKJ AKJ