China’s CGTN able to broadcast in Britain despite ban

The Chinese English-language news network CGTN will be able to broadcast in Britain, despite being officially banned there, as a result of a ruling by a French regulator, it emerged on Wednesday.

British regulator Ofcom slapped a ban on China Global Television Network on February 4, arguing that CGTN’s state-backed ownership structure violated UK law.

According to Ofcom, a proposed transfer of CGTN’s licence to a different media group would still keep the network tied to the Chinese Communist Party.

But the Chinese network argued that, under the terms of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (CETT), it was authorised to broadcast in another European Council member country, in theory allowing it to continue broadcasting in Britain as well.

In December, the Chinese network petitioned the independent French CSA, asking it to recognise that CGTN fell under its jurisdiction, effectively amounting to an authorisation.

To do so, only two technical criteria needed to be met — CGTN had to be distributed by a French satellite, Eutelsat in this case, via a signal emitted from France.

A CSA statement confirmed Wednesday that this was the case, and CGTN thus effectively falls within its jurisdiction.

The legal manoeuvre could allow the Chinese network to broadcast in Europe, including Britain, without the need of prior authorisation.

But the CSA can now exercise oversight of CGTN broadcasts and levy sanctions if the network incites hatred or violence, or fails to respect standards of human dignity.

The French authority has already taken such measures against Middle Eastern broadcasters that it considered had committed serious violations.