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China bans BBC World News from broadcasting

China has banned BBC World News from broadcasting in the country, its television and radio regulator announced.

China has criticized the BBC for its reporting on coronavirus and the persecution of Uighurs.

The BBC said it was “disappointed” by the decision.

It follows British media regulator Ofcom revoking state broadcaster China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) license to broadcast in the UK.

Separately, the broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) said it would stop relaying BBC World Service programming in the region, prompting condemnation from the BBC.

China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) said that BBC World News reports about China were found to “seriously violate” broadcast guidelines, including “the requirement that news should be truthful and fair” and not “harm China’s national interests”.

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

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 favor.”

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the 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.

In Hong Kong, the publicly-funded broadcaster RTHK said it was suspending the relaying of BBC World Service radio. It had previously aired it daily from 23:00 to 07:00. It also removed a weekly Cantonese program from the BBC’s Chinese Service from its schedule.

BBC World News TV channel broadcasts, however, are still available in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, is expected to retain certain rights and freedoms, including freedom of press, until 2047, as part of a handover agreement between China and Britain.

Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority said it “did not set boundaries” and that decisions were up to individual operators.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We condemn this decision by the Chinese authorities. Access to accurate and impartial news is a fundamental human right and should not be denied to the people of Hong Kong and mainland China, millions of whom rely on BBC News every week.”

The corporation rejected accusations of bias and said it would make every effort to bring the news to its audiences, who would “still find ways to access the BBC”.

The actions in China and Hong Kong follow Ofcom’s revoking of the CGTN license after it found it was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd.

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

CGTN can now also no longer be broadcast in Germany following Ofcom’s decision, Deutsche Welle reports, as the license in Germany had been approved by Ofcom as part of a sharing initiative.

Worsening relations

Relations between China and the UK have seen a serious deterioration in recent months over Hong Kong, where Beijing introduced 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. BBC

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