Chinese state TV appears to be censoring live footage of the Qatar World Cup by cutting out any shots of fans in the stadium enjoying life without Covid restrictions.
Mass protests have broken out across the authoritarian state, as Beijing attempted to impose more social distancing measures. Infections in the country have increased again recently, but the country is still pursuing a strict zero-Covid policy – meaning lockdowns are back in place across China.
It is the only major economy in the world still trying to eradicate the virus completely.
Now it appears Beijing have censored its footage of the World Cup so that fans watching at home can’t see the stadium supporters not wearing face masks or social distancing at a mass gathering.
According to ABC’s East Asia correspondent, Bill Birtles, there is a 32-second delay between the footage shown by Australian broadcaster SBS and CCTV, the Chinese state TV channel – and CCTV “avoids crowd close-ups”. Instead, it swaps these clips out for longer shots of the pitch, the team or the coaches.
CCTV - Chinese State television - is now broadcasting World Cup matches with a short delay and, where possible, substituting close ups of the freely mixing crowds who are not wearing masks with images from the pitch.
See evidence for yourself ... https://t.co/dNI1mPV33c
— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) November 28, 2022
But, as Birtles noted in a subsequent tweet, the editing is “imperfect” and cheering fans still sneak through in various shots.
Similarly, China Sports Insider’s Mark Dreyer also spotted the difference between the BBC feed with the one appearing on Chinese state TV.
While monitoring the Croatia-Canada match, he tweeted: “The rest of the world saw shots of joyous Croatian fans, but on CCTV they showed close-up of shots of the two coaches. Case rested.”
Some people still refusing to see this, so decided to track it. Within a minute, there was this: close-up shots of Canadian and Croatian fans on BBC/international feed, replaced by a solo shot of Canadian coach John Herdman on CCTV. pic.twitter.com/V3DZRjHrzk
— Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina) November 27, 2022
However, professor Victor Gao, former Chinese diplomat and now vice-president for the centre of China and Globalisation denied that there was any such editing when speaking to Radio 4′s Today programme on Monday.
“This is completely not true,” he said.“I watch television on the World Cup almost 5-6 hours every day in my home in Beijing, there is no such censorship.”
But, presenter Nick Robinson was quick to point out such a claim doesn’t match up with the clips making the rounds on social media.