Chinese state broadcaster-owned news channel streams back on to Freeview via unregulated back door.
A spokesperson for the channel confirmed earlier that it had “resumed broadcasting in the United Kingdom” by broadcasting 24 hours a day on Freeview.
The spokesperson however omitted how viewers could access the channel on Freeview. RXTV Info has confirmed that CGTN is being streamed via the Vision TV portal, accessed on Freeview channel 264. Not all Freeview devices are compatible with the service. Channels are streamed to viewer’s TV sets, with Vision TV acting as a gateway to the content.
This gives broadcasters who would not normally qualify for an Ofcom licence access to Freeview homes. For example, CGTN sits in the news section next to right-wing US news channel Newsmax.
A warning message linking to Ofcom advice appears as viewers navigate on to the service. Ofcom warns viewers that they might “see programmes and advertising you wouldn’t usually expect to see on your TV”.
CGTN’s long way back to the UK
CGTN disappeared from UK airwaves earlier this year, after Ofcom revoked its licence. As a result, CGTN applied for a French broadcasting licence. Through Council of Europe rules (predating EU rules), CGTN is permitted to return to UK screens, but with multiple conditions. One of the terms is that the channel will need to be uplinked to satellite from France. Throughout this period, CGTN has continued to be available in the UK online.
In a statement, CGTN said “the resumption of CGTN broadcasting is in the British public interest and will enable exchanges of information, culture, mutual trust and cooperation between the Chinese and British peoples. CGTN said it appreciates the cooperative attitude of the British institutions involved and is willing to make further efforts to promote understanding between China and the UK and hopes more British viewers can enjoy CGTN’s news service.”
Vision TV compatibility
Vision TV does not support the HbbTV standard used by all new Freeview Play compatible devices. This means there are some TV sets that will not display the service, although they can access other streaming services on Freeview. Others will show a warning message about compatibility when a user launches the service.
Not all services carried by Vision TV are unregulated by Ofcom. The portal includes access to YANGA!, which closed on Sky earlier this summer and That’s TV Gold, a channel from local TV operator That’s TV.