The UK government has revoked the operating license of China Global Television Network (CGTN), the country’s media regulatory board, Ofcom, announced. The regulatory board said it discovered that the outlet’s license was being held by another media outlet in China. The outlet, Star China Media, was holding CGTN’s license even though it was in no way responsible for what was being aired on the channel, Ofcom stated.
Ofcom said CGTN wanted it to give the license to another firm that would have placed the license under the control of the Chinese government, a proposal that the board dismissed.
“We gave CGTN many chances to comply with the stipulations of our laws, but it failed to do so,” a board representative told reporters. “Now we feel it is very important to take the channel’s license.”
The representative said the channel will no longer be able to operate in the country, and it can decide to apply for a judicial review or get another license after some time passes. The first hint of the channel’s troubles with Ofcom started during the protests in Hong Kong, the regulatory board said that CGTN was not being objective in its reports about the protests.
The board said the channel took the side of the Chinese and Hong Kong government in about five of its broadcasts failing to report the agitations of the demonstrators. The channel was also found biased in its reporting of the events surrounding the arrest of Peter Humphrey in the Asian country. The channel showed the private investigator seemingly confessing to committing a crime in the country, a move which Ofcom said could impact viewers negatively, AP News reports.
The channel broadcasts in three countries – the UK, the United States, and Kenya – with the aim of telling China’s story to the rest of the world. The last administration in the United States designated the channel along with some media outlets from China as outlets with ties to the Chinese government as such they have been mandated to follow certain regulations.
In a response to the license revoke, China has explained that the board only revoked the license to facilitate the political cause of the UK. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the step as a negation of the UK’s advocacy for the freedom of the press.
China also accused the BBC of reporting false news about the coronavirus pandemic and said it is going to take up the matter with the channel’s bureau in Beijing on Thursday. The ministry stated that on January 29, the BBC aired a report on the COVID-19 pandemic accusing China of seeking to conceal the spread of the virus in Wuhan and using the virus to extend its political cause. The ministry is asking for an apology from the BBC.
However, the media outlet said it is quite certain about its reports regarding China and the COVID-19 pandemic.