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China bans BBC World News

February 11, 2021

Chinese regulators have accused the UK's global broadcaster of breaking China's media code. The move follows the decision by UK authorities to revoke the license for China's global state TV network CGTN.

A wall of glass showing the BBC logo
The UK broadcaster is not included in most standard TV packages in ChinaImage: Anthony Devlin/Wire/empics/picture alliance

Chinese regulators banned BBC World News on Thursday, claiming the global network "seriously violated" the country's broadcasting rules.

The National Radio and Television Administration cited "the requirement that news should be truthful and fair" and not "harm China's national interests."

The channel therefore does not meet requirements for foreign channels broadcasting in China and its application to air for another year will not be accepted, it added.

BBC HQ in London
Chinese regulators have taken BBC World off airImage: Daniel Kalker/picture alliance

English-language BBC World News is not included in most TV channel packages in China but is available in some hotels and residences.

"We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action," The BBC said in a statement.

"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 regulators ban state Chinese TV

China's move comes a week after British media regulator Ofcom revoked the UK license for China's Global Television Network's (CGTN)

An investigation found that an entity dubbed Star China Media Limited wrongly held the license for the network.

Ofcom said it did not have "editorial responsibility" for the channel's output, and therefore "does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service." 

Star was acting as the distributor, rather than the provider of the news channel, it added.

British regulators also rejected a proposal by CGTN to transfer the license to a new entity.

They found it would ultimately still be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and therefore disqualified under UK law.

UK: 'This will damage China's reputation'

Later on Thursday, the UK government described China's decision to ban the BBC as "unacceptable."

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter: "China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom."

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

jf/dj (AFP, Reuters)