German state pulls plug on China’s CGTN channel after Britain revokes broadcasting license

Linda Lew, South China Morning Post

Posted at Feb 14 2021 09:28 PM

China Global Television Network has lost permission to air in Germany, just days after the Chinese state channel’s broadcasting licence was revoked in Britain.

The media authority of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said CGTN could no longer be broadcast in Germany because it had been distributed under a licence issued by British regulator Ofcom, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Friday. Ofcom revoked that licence last week.

“We are currently informing cable providers that Ofcom has revoked this channel’s United Kingdom licence and that the programme can therefore not be broadcast in Germany any more,” the North Rhine-Westphalia media authority was quoted as saying.

Vodafone Germany also said it had stopped distributing CGTN because it did not have a valid licence and was trying to clarify CGTN’s legal situation with channel representatives and regulators, Reuters reported.

Television broadcasting in Europe is covered by the 1989 transfrontier television convention under the Council of Europe, which still counts Britain among its 47 members. The convention allows networks with one member state’s distribution licence to be broadcast across the region.

Without a distribution licence from another council member, CGTN cannot be aired in the region.
CGTN did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Saturday.

Britain’s media regulator revoked CGTN’s broadcasting licence after an investigation found the state-owned channel was wrongfully held by a Hong Kong-based company. It denied the network’s application to transfer the licence to another entity that would be ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

This week, China’s National Radio and Television Administration said BBC World News was not allowed to continue its service “within Chinese territory” because it failed to meet the country’s broadcasting requirements. It also said BBC reports damaged China’s interests and ethnic unity.

The BBC has published a series of reports that allege Beijing’s policies in the far western region of Xinjiang against Uygurs and other ethnic minorities included detention, indoctrination and forced labour. One report early this month alleged that women detainees in Xinjiang were subjected to sexual abuse and torture.

Beijing says the camps in the region are vocational training centres and its policies are meant as counterterrorism and poverty reduction measures.