Chinese Regime Bars BBC World News, In Apparent Retaliation to UK Ban

Cathy He
By Cathy He
February 12, 2021China News
Chinese Regime Bars BBC World News, In Apparent Retaliation to UK Ban
People arrive and depart from Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the BBC, in London Britain, on July 2, 2015. (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

The Chinese regime has banned BBC World News over what it described as “serious violations” of regulations, in apparent retaliation to the UK canceling the license of Chinese state-run CGTN last week.

The regime’s broadcasting regulator, in a statement released in the early hours of Feb. 12 local time, said an investigation found that BBC World News had “violated requirements that news reporting must be true and impartial,” and harmed national interests and “ethnic unity.”

The British broadcaster would not be allowed to air in China, and the regulator would not accept its broadcast application for the new year, it said.

The BBC said it was disappointed with the ban. “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action,” a BBC spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

“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 favor.”

The move came as the BBC faced heavy pressure from the regime over a recent report alleging systemic rape was conducted inside internment camps in the region of Xinjiang. The report said Chinese men engaged in mass rape, sexual abuse, and torture of Uyghur women detained inside the camps, based on interviews with several former detainees and a guard.

The United States has designated Beijing’s repression against Uyghurs a genocide. The regime has vehemently denied it has committed rights abuses.

Last Thursday, UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom revoked the license of CGTN, an English-language broadcaster run by the regime, after it found that CGTN’s license was unlawful.

“Our investigation showed that the license for China Global Television Network is held by an entity which has no editorial control over its programs,” a spokesperson for Ofcom said in a statement at the time.

This is a violation of UK broadcasting laws, which stipulate that broadcast licensees must have control over the licensed service, including editorial oversight over the programs they show.

CGTN has been the subject of a series of Ofcom investigations and is facing further sanctions for violations of broadcasting rules.

Last year, the regulator found the network of “serious failure of compliance” with UK impartiality laws during its coverage of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. It also found CGTN guilty of “serious” violations of British broadcasting regulations for airing a forced confession extracted from British citizen Peter Humphrey in 2013.

According to human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders, CGTN and its Chinese-language counterpart CCTV have aired numerous “forced confessions,” which amount to “known and intentional distortion of facts and clear lies,” and violate Ofcom’s rules on impartiality and accuracy.

Alexander Zhang and Reuters contributed to this report.