French regulator under pressure to withdraw China’s licence

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French regulator under pressure to withdraw China’s licence

France s media regulator is under pressure to withdraw a licence that allows the Chinese state broadcaster to broadcast its programmes across Europe from a studio in West London.

The licence of the organisation was revoked last year by Ofcom, but the China Global Television Network CGTN was able to continue broadcasting in the UK after authorisation from the French authority.

Since 2018 the Chinese network has produced English-language programmes, including those presented by a former BBC Wales Today presenter, from its European hub in Chiswick.

After Ofcom revoked its UK licence, CGTN was able to apply to the regulators in France, the Conseil rieur de l audiovisuel CSA, due to a contract it has held with the French satellite company Eutelsat since 2016.

Broadcasting has continued from the London studio, one of its hubs, alongside those in Beijing, Washington DC and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, although the content is only available in the UK via the internet.

The French regulator had said when licensing the Chinese network that it would be particularly attentive to CGTN, previously known as CCTV, in order to give independent and honest reporting and not inciting violence or hatred.

Peter Dahlin, from Safeguard Defenders, the NGO whose complaint led Ofcom to act, said there were multiple grounds for the CSA to withdraw the organisation's licence.

He said that the French CSA needs to take responsibility for its failure to safeguard pan-European airwaves and launch a formal investigation into the allegations that have led other regulators to take action.

Due to the system in Europe, CGTN is using its French equivalent to continue airing across Europe, despite having lost its license to air in the UK.

This is even more important as both CCTV and CGTN are being used extensively to justify mass incarcerations of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, which may amount to crimes against humanity. Safeguard Defenders highlighted several examples of the Chinese network that broadcast forced confessions, including that of British citizen Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng. Humphrey, a former Reuters journalist, was paraded on CCTV in 2013 after being arrested for allegedly buying and selling personal information in his role as a corporate investigator.

Safeguard Defenders, in a letter to the CSA, claimed that the Chinese state network repeatedly breached French law and Article 6 on the right to a fair trial in the European Convention on Human Rights.

After a lengthy investigation, Ofcom revoked CGTN's licence in 2021 after it concluded that the network was ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

CGTN is facing a loss of its broadcast licence in Canada. The Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission warned last December that it had significant concerns The regulator gave CGTN until March this year to respond to claims that it has failed to provide balanced coverage that protects, enriches and strengthens the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada. No action has yet been taken.