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EU Calls On China To Reverse Ban On BBC World Service News

AP reported that the European Union has called on China to reverse its ban on BBC World Service News channel. The ban was announced last Friday, just a few days after the UK regulator Ofcom revoked the licence of state-owned Chinese CGTN.

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Teresa Marvulli
Teresa Marvulli
Italian journalist based in the UK. I trained at City, University of London and I write about the environment, Italian politics and current affairs with a focus on the EU.

UNITED KINGDOM. London: The Associated Press has reported on Saturday that the EU called on China to reverse its ban on the BBC World News television channels.

China announced the BBC World News’s ban from its television networks on Friday. It is speculated to be a move in “apparent retaliation for Britain’s pulling of the licence of state-owned Chinese broadcaster CGTN.”

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In its statement, the EU said that China’s decision further restricted “freedom of expression and access to information inside its border” the AP reports.

According to the EU, the decision violated both the Chinese constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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The statement also highlighted how the decision of Hong Kong and its public broadcaster to stop carrying BBC broadcast, added to the “erosion of the rights and freedoms that is ongoing.”

“The EU remains strongly committed to safeguarding media freedom and pluralism, as well as protecting the right to freedom of expression online and offline, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference of any kind,” the statement said.

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Although Britain is out of the EU, it remains a member of the Council of Europe. The organisation oversees an agreement signed in 1989 which links and regulates broadcasting licences.

China’s move was symbolic

The ban of BBC World Service News television channels was mostly symbolic. In fact, the channel was shown on cable TV systems in hotels, apartments compounds for foreigners and some other businesses.

China’s National Radio and Television Administration accused BBC World News of not being true and impartial in its coverage of the country.

Beijing also complained over BBC reports about the government’s initial response to the virus outbreak in the country.

According to AP, other complains were over allegations of forced labour and sexual abuse in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang, home to Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.

The move doesn’t come as a surprise. Last year Beijing expelled some foreign reporters due to disputes with the Trump administration and complains over criticism of the Communist Party in the media.

Why Ofcom revoked CGTN’s licence?

Earlier this month, Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, withdrew the UK broadcasting licence for the Chinese state-owned CGTN.

On Twitter, Ofcom wrote: “We have revoked China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence to broadcast in the UK, after our investigation concluded that the licence was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd. (SCML).”

Furthermore, there were attempts to rectify this by transferring control of the network to another organisation, CGTNC.

However, Ofcom doesn’t allow networks controlled by governments to hold licences and the regulator concluded that CGTNC was “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”  

In the statement, Ofcom said: “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.”

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