Maneuver allows Chinese network to skirt Brit ban

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 5 Mar 2021

China's English-language news network, China Global Television Network, will be able to broadcast in Britain despite being officially banned there, as a result of a ruling by a French regulator, it has emerged.

British regulator Ofcom slapped a ban on CGTN on February 4, arguing its state-backed ownership structure violated United Kingdom law.

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

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

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

To do so, only two technical criteria need 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 that this was the case and CGTN thus effectively falls within its jurisdiction.

The legal maneuver could allow the Chinese network to broadcast in Europe without the need of prior authorization.

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 to have committed serious violations.

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