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China bans BBC from broadcasting for ‘violating reporting guidelines’

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Beijing: In an apparent tit for tat, China has banned BBC World News from broadcasting in the country for seriously violating its guidelines for reporting, China’s television and radio regulator has announced.

The move comes a week after Ofcom, the British media regulator, revoked the licence of Chinese state-owned broadcaster China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) to broadcast in the UK.

 

China has criticised the BBC for its reporting on the deadly coronavirus pandemic and the persecution of ethnic minority Uighurs in the restive Xinjiang province and lodged a protest with the British broadcaster.

The BBC said it was “disappointed” by China’s decision to ban it.

The Chinese regulator, the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), made the announcement on Thursday night on pulling BBC World News off the air in the country for “serious content violation”.

NRTA said BBC World News was found to have seriously violated regulations on radio and television management and on overseas satellite television channel management in its China-related reports, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The BBC coverage went against the requirements that news reporting must be “true and impartial, and undermined China’s national interests and ethnic solidarity”, it said.

“As the channel fails to meet the requirements to broadcast in China as an overseas channel, BBC World News is not allowed to continue its service within Chinese territory,” the NRTA statement said.

It said the BBC’s application to air for another year would not be accepted.

It is unclear how much impact China’s ban of BBC World News would have in the world’s most populous country. The BBC has never been allowed to broadcast in mainland China or into Chinese homes. BBC World News was only available in international hotels and diplomatic compounds.

Ofcom’s decision to revoke the licence of CGTN came after it found that the Chinese state television licence was wrongfully held by Star China Media Limited.

CGTN was also found in breach of British broadcasting regulations for airing the allegedly forced confession of UK citizen Peter Humphrey.

Reacting to China’s ban, the BBC said in a statement: “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action. The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour.”

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called China’s move an “unacceptable curtailing of media freedom”.

The US State Department condemned the decision, calling it part of a wider campaign to suppress free media in China.

Relations between China and the UK have seen a serious deterioration in recent months over Hong Kong, where Beijing introduced a controversial new security law after a large pro-democracy movement swept the ex-colony.

In January, the UK introduced a new visa that gives 5.4 million Hong Kong residents the right to live in the UK and eventually become citizens because it believes China is undermining the territory’s rights and freedoms, the BBC report said.

China’s tiff with BBC followed Beijing’s spat last year with three US newspapers resulting in the expulsion of some journalists from those media outlets.

China has sharply criticised this month’s BBC report featuring interviews with Uighur women who said they had been systematically raped, sexually abused and tortured in China’s “re-education” camps in Xinjiang.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed the report saying that it is biased. It also criticised BBC reports on China’s Covid pandemic response saying that stories went quite opposite to BBC’s claims of “impartial and honest” coverage.

Last month, the US said China had committed genocide in its repression of the Uighurs and other mainly Muslim groups.

According to estimates, more than a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China.