China urges UK to reconsider CGTN ban

2021-02-06 12:02:31

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. [Photo/Agencies] China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged the United Kingdom to reconsider the revocation of broadcast rights for China Global Television Network, or CGTN, saying that the move was "based on ideological prejudice and political reasons". UK broadcast regulator Ofcom banned CGTN from British airwaves on Thursday following a dispute over which entity has editorial control over the Beijing-based media organization. Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin hit back on Friday, saying the decision was politically motivated. "China urges the UK to immediately cease political manipulation and correct its mistakes," Wang said at a press briefing. Wang said that CGTN, which is a major English-language broadcaster with outposts in multiple nations, plays an important role in "enhancing understanding and communication" between China and the UK. Wang added that China "firmly opposes" the Ofcom ruling and said that China "reserves the right to make the necessary responses." Ofcom reached its decision after concluding that Star China Media Limited, the license-holder for the CGTN service, did not have editorial responsibility for CGTN's output. Ofcom cited UK law which stipulates that "licensees must have control over the licensed service", including editorial oversight over the programs they show. "In addition, under these laws, license holders cannot be controlled by political bodies," Ofcom said in a statement. Ofcom's move means that CGTN may not broadcast on UK television and radio, though UK-based employees may continue contributing to the company's websites and social media platforms. CGTN "strongly opposed" the move in a statement on Thursday, saying that the investigation launched by Ofcom was "manipulated by extreme right-wing organizations and anti-China forces". CGTN said it had proposed transferring its television license, though Ofcom had refused to cooperate and seek a "constructive solution". "Ofcom disregarded CGTN's reputation as a professional international media organization and its 18-year good record of broadcasting in the UK, and made a final ruling, based on the so-called political nature of CGTN and related Chinese media organizations, to refuse the transfer and to revoke CGTN's broadcasting license," CGTN said in a statement. Reacting to the dispute, British academic Martin Jacques implied that the license revocation was politically motivated. "Ofcom's decision to ban CGTN, the Chinese international TV channel, from the UK is straight from the Cold War playbook," Jacques, a former senior fellow of politics and international studies at Cambridge University, said on Twitter. "Have they watched it or just taken the Trump line that everything that happens in China is controlled by the CCP?"