British television channel BBC World News has been barred from airing in China, the National Radio and Television Administration said on Friday, a week after the United Kingdom’s media regulator revoked Chinese state-owned broadcaster China Global Television Network’s (CGTN).
In a statement issued on the stroke of the Lunar New Year, the administration said an investigation found BBC World News’ China-related reports had “seriously violated” regulations, including that news should be “truthful and fair,” had harmed China’s national interests and undermined national unity.
The channel, therefore, does not meet requirements for foreign channels broadcasting in China and its application to air for another year will not be accepted, it added.
English-language BBC World News is not included in most TV channel packages in China but is available in some hotels and residences.
In a statement, the BBC said it was “disappointed” by the decision.
“We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action,” a BBC spokeswoman said.
“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 Minister Dominic Raab said the move by China was “unacceptable” and damaged China’s global standing.
“China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom,” Raab said on Twitter.
“China has some of the most severe restrictions on media & internet freedoms across the globe, & this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world,” he added.
The US State Department also condemned the decision, calling it “troubling”.
“We absolutely condemn the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) decision to ban BBC World News, the PRC maintains one of the most controlled most impressive least free information spaces in the world. It’s troubling that as the PRC restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China Beijing’s leaders, use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“We call on the PRC and other nations with authoritarian controls over their population to allow their full access to the internet and media.”
Reporting on alleged abuses
The move came after the BBC aired a report on February 3 detailing harrowing accounts of alleged torture and sexual violence against Uighur women in Chinese camps.
In a lengthy investigation based on witness testimonies, the BBC had reported allegations of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of women detainees by police and guards in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
The region is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority and has seen a sweeping security crackdown by Chinese forces in recent years.
The report described torture by electric shock, including anal rape by guards using electrified sticks. Women were subject to gang rape and forced sterilisation, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, British media regulator Ofcom revoked CGTN’s licence to broadcast in the UK on February 4 after an investigation found the licence was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd.