Thursday 4 February 2021 11:11 am

Ofcom revokes Chinese broadcaster CGTN’s UK licence

The media regulator has withdrawn China’s state-owned broadcaster right to broadcast in the UK following an investigation. 

Ofcom said the owner of China Global Television Network (CGTN) does not have control over its day to day output and is a distributor rather than a provider. 

Star China Media Limited “did not have editorial responsibility for CGTN’s output,” the regulator concluded from its investigation. “As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service, and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee.” 

CGTN has accepted SCML did not control the channel and should no longer hold the licence. The broadcaster said it would restructure to separate the CGTN division from China Central Television controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and thus disqualified from holding a broadcast licence. 

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “Our investigation showed that the licence for China Global Television Network is held by an entity which has no editorial control over its programmes.”

“We are unable to approve the application to transfer the licence to China Global Television Network Corporation because it is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law.”

“We’ve provided CGTN with numerous opportunities to come into compliance, but it has not done so. We now consider it appropriate to withdraw the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK.”

An application to transfer the licence to CGTNC was submitted last September but the regulator said “crucial information” was missing from the application and the broadcaster has since failed to respond to questions.

It isn’t the first time CGTN has faced scrutiny from Ofcom. Last year the regulator found the broadcaster had breached the broadcasting code for “failing to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of the Hong Kong protests”.

China’s foreign ministry has since lodged “stern representations” to the BBC over what it claimed was “fake news” coverage of Covid-19, urging the broadcaster to apologise.