The company that was previously legally responsible for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN in the UK was found guilty of serious breaches of UK broadcasting rules.
Star China Media Limited was the official broadcast licence holder for CGTN and CCTV News in the UK. Following an Ofcom investigation, two new complaints regarding fairness and privacy rules were upheld. These relate to broadcasts made in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Ofcom found that the individuals concerned were unfairly treated and had their privacy infringed. Among other things, CGTN failed to obtain their informed consent to be interviewed, airing footage of alleged confessions and omitting material facts. Ofcom decided the broadcasts breached two parts of the UK Broadcasting Code.
Two penalties of £100,000 each have now been levied against Star China Media, totalling £200,000. This is in addition to a £225,000 fine dished out earlier this year with regards previous, similar complaints, against the channel.
In February 2021, Ofcom revoked Star China’s broadcast licence, forcing CGTN off the air in the UK. This followed a further Ofcom investigation which found Star China Media did not have full editorial control over the channel. The investigation found ultimate editorial control was with the Chinese state. As a result, Star China Media was deemed to have wrongly held a UK broadcast licence.
Last week, CGTN announced it had returned to Freeview in the UK. However, Freeview broadcasts are limited to an online stream accessed through Freeview channel 264. Meanwhile, CGTN has received a French broadcast licence which covers countries who are signatories to a Council of Europe agreement on Transfrontier Television.