China bars BBC News from airing on mainland

Move comes a week after Britain revoked a UK broadcast license for China's state TV network CGTN

China bars BBC News on mainland 
The BBC is the latest in a series of Western media outlets banned from being aired or ejected from the country. File photo: Reuters.

(ATF) China's National Radio and Television Administration has barred BBC World News from being aired in the country after an investigation found its reports on matters related to China "seriously violated" local regulations.

The NRTA said on Friday (Feb 12) that news should be "truthful and fair", but the BBC's reports harmed China's interests and undermined national unity – so its application to broadcast for another year could not be accepted.

Hong Kong's public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), also said on Friday that BBC programs were suspended following the decision in Beijing. The English-language program had previously been available in hotels and homes but the channel has reportedly gone blank.

The announcement comes a week after Britain's media regulator Ofcom revoked a UK broadcast license issued to China Global Television Network (CGTN), a state broadcaster.

Earlier this month, the BBC aired a program that reported systematic rape and sexual abuse of women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

China denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang and said the BBC report was “wholly without factual basis”. But it is unclear if this report was a factor in the British media outlet being denied the capacity to work in China.

There has been a series of diplomatic dramas over the past year that led to at least 17 western journalists or correspondents leaving the country.

In March about a dozen American journalists for major outlets such as the Wall Street Journal were expelled shortly after the US capped the number of Chinese citizens who could be employed by Chinese media outlets and put them on 90-day visas, amid claims they were propagandists or CCP agents and not genuine reporters.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab and the US State Department condemned the latest move.

“China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom,” Raab said.

“China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “It’s troubling that as (China) restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation."

Earlier this month, the BBC carried a report of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

China denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang and said the BBC report was “wholly without factual basis”.

The BBC said it was disappointed by the decision of the Chinese authorities to bar BBC World News from broadcasting.

With reporting by Reuters.

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