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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 27 February 2021

China's ban on BBC World News unacceptable

UK broadcaster accused of infringing honesty and impartiality

Chinese state media has accused the BBC of spreading lies. Getty Images
Chinese state media has accused the BBC of spreading lies. Getty Images

BBC World News was banned from broadcasting in China on Thursday, prompting high-level condemnation from the UK and US governments.

The move followed a UK TV regulator's decision to revoke CGTN's broadcasting licence on February 4.

“China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom," said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“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."

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “We absolutely condemn the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] decision to ban BBC World News.

"It’s troubling that as the PRC restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation.

"Media freedom, as we’ve said, is an important right, and it’s key to ensuring an informed citizenry, an informed citizenry that can share their ideas freely among themselves and with their leaders.”

Journalists in China said the channel had gone blank on their screens.

China's National Radio and Television Administration said some of the BBC's reports infringed on the principles of truthfulness and impartiality in journalism.

The broadcasting regulator accused the BBC of seriously breaching regulations "on radio and television management, and on overseas satellite television channel management in its China-related reports".

It said BBC reporting had "undermined China's national interests and ethnic solidarity", before announcing the broadcasting ban.

"As the channel fails to meet the requirements to broadcast in China as an overseas channel, BBC World News is not allowed to continue its service within Chinese territory," the regulator said.

"The NRTA will not accept the channel's broadcast application for the new year."

The Chinese English-language newspaper, Global Times, wrote on Twitter:

"We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action," a BBC spokeswoman said.

"The BBC 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 UK's communications watchdog, Ofcom, said it decided to take away CGTN's broadcasting permit because the network was owned by a separate licence holder.

Ofcom said this was a breach its rules.

It said it would not approve an application to transfer the licence to a new entity, the China Global Television Network, because it "is controlled by a body that is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party".

British law does not allow for governments or political groups to control network licences.

Updated: February 12, 2021 01:20 PM

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