Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday, 4 February 2021

 

U.K. Revokes Chinese TV License Citing Communist Party Link

Updated on 
  • Britain has offered passports to eligible Hong Kongers
  • Last year Ofcom found CGTN breached impartiality rules

The U.K.’s media regulator has pulled a Chinese state-backed television channel off the air after finding it shouldn’t have had a broadcast license.

CGTN’s license holder, a company called Star China Media Ltd., did not have editorial control over broadcasts, in a breach of U.K. legal requirements, according to an investigation published by watchdog Ofcom on Thursday.

CGTN had asked for its license be transferred to an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation, but Ofcom said no as “crucial information” was missing from the application and the new owner would be disqualified from holding a license as it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

“We have given CGTN significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules. Those efforts have now been exhausted,” Ofcom said in the statement.

The decision will deepen a chill between the U.K. and Beijing. In the last few months, Britain has offered passports to eligible Hong Kongers following China’s imposition of security laws, and banned China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from its next-generation 5G wireless networks.

Last year Ofcom found CGTN breached impartiality rules in its coverage of Hong Kong protests. Other pending complaints over fairness and privacy are still being considered and may also result in sanctions.

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