Ofcom revokes licence of Chinese broadcaster at Chiswick Park

Image above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom has withdrawn the licence for Chinese broadcaster CGTN to broadcast in the UK.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) is an international English-language satellite news channel which is based at Chiswick Business Park in Chiswick. It is run by China’s state broadcaster, which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, but it was licensed in this country under the name Star China Media Limited.

After an investigation instigated by a British journalist Peter Humphrey, who was tortured in a Chinese prison, with the state TV broadcaster used to record a forced confession from him, Ofcom has withdrawn the company’s licence to broadcast in the UK, finding that the licencee Star China Media Limited does not have editorial control.

In the UK, broadcasting laws made by Parliament state that broadcast licensees must have control over the licensed service – including editorial oversight over the programmes they show. In addition, under these laws, licence holders cannot be controlled by political bodies.

The broadcaster tried to change the licencee to an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC). Ofcom has refused to grant the licence to that too, on the same grounds,:

‘we consider that CGTNC would be disqualified from holding a licence, as it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party’.

Image above: CGTN website

Further sanctions

‘We expect to conclude separate sanctions proceedings against CGTN for due impartiality and fairness and privacy breaches shortly’ the broadcasting regulator said in a statement on Thursday 4 February.

Other breaches of broadcasting rules in UK

In 2020 Ofcom found CGTN to be in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code for failing to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of the Hong Kong protests, and also found ‘a serious breach of our fairness and privacy rules’.

There are three other fairness and privacy investigations about content on the CGTN service which also remain ongoing, pending further consideration.

Images above: Chiswick Business Park; photographs Jennifer Griffiths

Read other stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chinese state TV opens in Chiswick

See also: Former Ofcom director advises company which Ofcom is investigating

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