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CGTN able to resume broadcasts in Europe

By ANGUS McNEICE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-03-05 09:19

The CCTV headquarters, the home of Chinese state media outlet CCTV and its English-language sister channel CGTN, in Beijing, China on Feb 5, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese TV network allowed to operate on continent despite the ban by Ofcom

The China Global Television Network, or CGTN, has the right to broadcast across Europe, French authorities have confirmed, despite a recent move by United Kingdom regulators to revoke the Chinese media company's license.

UK broadcast regulator Ofcom banned CGTN from British airwaves in February following a dispute over which entity has editorial control over the Beijing-based media organization.

But France's media watchdog the Conseil superieur de l'audiovisuel, or CSA, confirmed on Wednesday that the CGTN channel falls under French jurisdiction because it has been broadcast in Europe via a French satellite operator since 2016.

French law gives non-European channels the right to broadcast if French satellites and uplinks are used.

Under a treaty set up by the Council of Europe, which has 47 members including the UK and France, a media organization is authorized to broadcast across the continent as long as it falls under the jurisdiction of one member state and adheres to local regulations.

The CSA said that non-European channels such as CGTN can be broad-cast freely without prior verification, provided they continue to respect French television and radio laws.

In principle, this could mean that CGTN retains the right to broadcast in the UK, despite the Ofcom ruling.

Ofcom banned the Chinese company in early February after it concluded that Star China Media Limited, the license-holder for the CGTN service, did not have editorial responsibility for CGTN's output. Ofcom cited UK law which stipulates that "licensees must have control over the licensed service", including editorial oversight over the programs they show.

"In addition, under these laws, license holders cannot be controlled by politbodies," Ofcom said in a statement.

CGTN said it had proposed transferring its television license, though Ofcom had refused to cooperate and seek a "constructive solution".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that China "firmly opposed" the move by the UK regulator. "China urges the UK to immediately cease political manipulation and correct its mistakes," Wang said at a news briefing on Feb 5.

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