Ofcom has revoked the licence for Chinese news channel CGTN to broadcast in the UK after the regulator found the channel to be controlled by the Communist Party of China.
The official licence holder is Star China Media Limited, but Ofcom has concluded it doesn’t have control of the service. UK broadcasting law says licensees must have editorial oversight over the programmes they show. In addition, under these laws, licence holders cannot be controlled by political bodies.
Ofcom recently received a request to transfer the CGTB licence to a entity called China Global Television Network Corporation, but says “crucial information” was missing from the licence. It adds it considers CGTNC would be disqualified from holding a licence, as it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
CGTN has accepted that SCML did not control the channel and should no longer hold the licence. But it confirmed its intention to restructure to separate the CGTN division from China Central Television (CCTV) – which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and so disqualified from holding a UK broadcast licence
In a statement, Julian Knight MP, who chairs the DCMS committee said: “We welcome Ofcom’s decision to revoke the licence of Chinese broadcaster CGTN. Today’s ruling is confirmation that the Chinese Communist Party is the ultimate controller of its broadcasts which is not permitted under UK law. CGTN had already breached broadcasting codes with a forced confession and failure on impartiality over coverage of the Hong Kong protests. It should be seen as a strong warning that the power to broadcast carries with it responsibility and accountability. Failing this bar will not be tolerated.”
The regulator says it plans to continue with separate sanctions proceedings against CGTN for due impartiality and fairness and privacy breaches.