CGTN: Ofcom withdraws UK broadcasting licence for Chinese state-owned news channel

·2-min read

Ofcom has withdrawn the UK broadcasting licence for the Chinese state-owned CGTN network following an investigation into the channel's operations.

The UK regulator found that the company that owned CGTN - Star China Media Ltd - did not have editorial control over the news channel and was thereby in breach of regulations.

Attempts to rectify this by transferring control to another organisation, CGTNC, were also in breach because Ofcom forbids licences to be held by networks controlled by governments and CGTNC is "ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party", Ofcom concluded.

That application was also "missing crucial information", the regulator 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," said an Ofcom spokesperson.

"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."

The China Global Television Network (CGTN) is a state-owned group of news channels broadcasting internationally in five languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and French. Its European headquarters is in Chiswick, west London.

In 2018, the US Department of Justice forced CGTN America to register as a "foreign agent", reflecting its close links to the Communist Party.

Ofcom is separately investigating the channel for bias in its reporting of the Hong Kong democracy protests and for broadcasting a confession given by a British journalist that was done under duress.

It is not the first time that Ofcom has taken the dramatic step to revoke a broadcasting licence. Iranian state channel Press TV was forced to cease broadcasting with immediate effect in 2012 when it was found to have flouted British broadcasting rules.

The channel was also "unwilling and unable" to pay a £100,000 fine given after an interview was broadcast with a victim of torture.