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UK strips China's state media channel of broadcast license

Feb. 4, 2021 - 20:36 By AP
A man wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks along an observation deck near the CCTV Headquarters building, the home of Chinese state-run television network CCTV and its overseas arm CGTN, in Beijing, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap)
The UK has stripped China's state-owned TV channel of its broadcasting license in the country, after an investigation found the license holder lacked editorial control and had links to China's ruling Communist Party.

The communications regulator, Ofcom, said Thursday it revoked the UK license for China Global Television Network, or CGTN, an international English language satellite news channel.

CGTN had been available on free and pay TV in the UK It could not be reached immediately for comment.

Regulators started looking into the channel after several people had filed complaints, saying it aired their forced confessions and violated rules on fairness and accuracy. One was from a former British Consulate employee in Hong Kong who says he was detained and tortured by Chinese police for information on protesters. Another was by a British corporate investigator who said he was forced to confess while imprisoned in China. CGTN did not respond to requests for comment on those claims at the time.

The watchdog said it found that the entity that held the channel's license, Star China Media Limited, didn't have editorial responsibility for CGTN's output, which is a licensing requirement.

An application to transfer the license to China Global Television Network Corporation was rejected because "crucial information" was missing, Ofcom said. But it also failed "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.

The watchdog said it gave CGTN "significant time" to comply but those efforts "have now been exhausted."

"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," Ofcom said. (AP)