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Deutsche Welle Probes Alleged Censorship of TV in China

As China lifted restrictions on some Web sites ahead of the Olympics, new concerns over media access have arisen in Beijing. Deutsche Welle is looking into allegations that its TV program was jammed in China.

Two people sit in front of a TV with a black screen

DW-TV's program was interrupted for 10 minutes

Deutsche Welle officials said on Friday, Aug. 1, that they were investigating whether DW-TV's broadcast was jammed in China because of a documentary film that takes a critical look at doping in the country.

DW-TV, which can be seen in the Olympic village and the press center via an official cable provider, was apparently frozen in mid-broadcast for 10 minutes while the film aired on July 29.

Screenshot of dw-world.de/chinese

DW-WORLD.DE's Chinese Web site is once again accessible in China

DW staff in China meanwhile confirmed that DW-WORLD.DE's Chinese version was accessible in large cities throughout the country, but added that the site's loading time often took much longer than usual. Deutsche Welle's other language services were unblocked earlier this week.

Many other sites, however, were still being censored, including those linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falun Gong movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and ones with information on the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square.

Unlike journalists at the Olympic media center, Internet access for Chinese citizens will remain tightly controlled by government officials.

Slow paper delivery

In addition to restrictions placed on Internet sites, German publishers have reported difficulty delivering newspapers to the Deutsches Haus -- a meeting place for the German delegation during the Olympics at a Beijing hotel, media reported.

Several German newspapers

It takes two to three days for German newspapers to reach Beijing's streets, the DOSB said

Publishers of the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that talks over the past few months to ensure the direct and timely delivery of papers to the Olympic Village had failed. Chinese officials stated they needed at least three days to censor publications before they could be delivered, according to the paper.

Allowing the German press to be censored before reaching readers was "completely inacceptable," the president of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert, wrote to the German Olympic Sports Association (DOSB), according to media reports on Friday.

In his letter, Lammert called the general Chinese practice of limiting media access a "shameful, dark side of the games that we cannot change." He added that a Deutsches Haus, where the 750-person strong German Olympic delegation and its guests often congregate during the games, does not deserve its name if it does not respect the worldwide freedom of expression.

The DOSB has entered talks with Chinese officials to permit the speedy release of German print media, spokesman Gerd Graus said, according to the Protestant Church's epd news agency.

Internet open to journalists only

The censorship of German print media comes even as International Olympic Committee officials and the Chinese Olympic Organizing Committee (BOCOG) on Friday said journalists at the Olympic media center would be granted unfettered access to the Internet during the games.

"The issue has been solved," IOC Vice-President Gunilla Lindberg said. "The IOC Coordination Commission and BOCOG met last night and agreed. Internet use will be just like in any Olympics."

The previously barred Web sites of Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, AFP news agency reported. A reporter for German public broadcaster ZDF said on Friday that although Amnesty's Web site was accessible, information concerning human rights in China was not.

Access follows media pressure

The easing of some restrictions came after a week of controversy and China's breach of a pledge to allow foreign reporters covering the Games complete access to the Internet.

The media should be seeing a noticeable difference in accessibility to Web sites that they need to report on the Olympic Games, the IOC said Friday in an online statement.

Photo montage of a red circle with a line through it over a computer monitor

Many Web sites would remain blocked during the Olympics, Chinese officials said

"We put a team together in the IOC to work with BOCOG to begin to open up sites which we believe are absolutely necessary to comply with non-censored reporting of the Games," IOC Press Commission chairman Kevan Gosper told Reuters.

Gosper, however, added that some sites would continue to be censored.

"There will be sites blocked that have to do with pornography or where, in the opinion of the national government, sites are subversive or against national interest, and that's normal in most countries in the world," he said.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies on Friday welcomed China's decision to lift restrictions on some of the sites deemed sensitive, such as the one for Amnesty, a leading human rights group.

"It's a good thing," she said.

BOCOG spokesman Sun Weide declined to comment on whether any specific Web sites had been blocked or whether restrictions on others had been lifted.

"Some sites are blocked under Chinese law, but I do not have further information," he said. "Internet access in China is sufficient and is open. I think it is as open as in any other country in the world."

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