China has banned the BBC in mainland China for breaches of rules on truth and impartiality according to the state news agency.
The report said the British broadcaster would not have its licence renewed by China’s media regulator at the start of the Chinese new year. The move follows the decision last week by the UK regulator, Ofcom, to strip the Chinese state broadcaster CGTN of its licence in the UK.
The Chinese statement said BBC World News “was found to have seriously violated regulations on radio and television management and on overseas satellite television channel management in its China-related reports which went against the requirements that news reporting must be true and impartial, and undermined China’s national interests and ethnic solidarity.”
BBC World News was not available in most domestic news packages in China but could be viewed at some hotels. Recent BBC reports on China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and abuses in Xinjiang’s internment camps are thought to have infuriated the authorities.
In Hong Kong, the publicly funded broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong also said it was suspending the relay of BBC radio news programming.
Index on Censorship CEO Ruth Smeeth said, “Index on Censorship is appalled at the Chinese Government’s announcement today to ban the BBC World Service from broadcasting in China.
“Media freedom is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as an original signatory the Republic of China has a responsibility to protect media diversity – not attack it.
“We are concerned that this is just the latest in an ongoing crackdown on foreign media outlets in China. Last year foreign journalists, including from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, were effectively expelled from the country allegedly as a result of their reporting.
“The BBC World Service provides impartial and factual news throughout the world and is a trusted news outlet. This assault on its integrity is a clear effort to further restrict access to information to those who reside in China.
“Index will be writing to the Chinese Ambassador in the UK today as we call on the Chinese Government to immediately re-instate broadcast rights for the BBC and to guarantee ongoing access to BBC journalists both in China and Hong Kong and to ensure their safety.”
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the ban was “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.”
The BBC said in a statement: “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action. 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 favour.”