Loophole Could Allow Chinese Propaganda to Return to UK Airwaves Through France

TOPSHOT - French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hand with China's President Xi Jinping as they arrive at the Villa Kerylos before a dinner on March 24, 2019 in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near Nice on the French riviera. (Photo by JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER/AFP …
JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER/AFP via Getty Images

A loophole could result in Chinese Communist propaganda returning to British airwaves, despite the UK’s broadcasting regulator banning China Global Television Network (CGTN) for breaching rules on airing state-run news.

In February, Ofcom banned CGTN from broadcasting in Britain, later fining the chief foreign mouthpiece of the CCP £225,000 for airing what was determined to be forced confessions, as well for its alleged bias in coverage of the pro-democracy Hong Kong protests.

However, on Friday, the broadcasting regulator said that the propaganda outlet “falls within the jurisdiction of France”, which has the ability to broadcast into the UK under a longstanding treaty.

“This means that CGTN may broadcast in France and other countries signed up to the [European Convention on Transfrontier Television], including the UK, subject to oversight by the French regulator,” Ofcom told the Financial Times.

The treaty was signed under the Council of Europe, a separate entity from the European Union, and therefore unaffected by the UK leaving the EU at the beginning of the year. The treaty states that international broadcasters are allowed to air in any of the 47 countries under the proviso that at least one member state has claimed jurisdiction to regulate.

Unlike the UK, France has no rules barring state-run media organisations from airing in the country, thereby opening the door for a return of CGTN to the UK via France.

A source within Sky, which broadcasts the Chinese network in Italy and Germany, said that there had not been any requests for CGTN to be put back on in the UK.

Freesat, another satellite broadcaster, said: “No discussions have taken place about the return of CGTN to Freesat nor decisions made about the future of the channel on our platform.”

CGTN has come under increasing scrutiny in France as well, with a human rights group in Spain, Safeguard Defenders, formally launching a complaint against the Chinese broadcaster on April 5th for over a report on Xinjiang.

The CGTN report, responding to a CNN investigation into the plight of Uyghur children separated from their parents in the concentration camp region of China, included “forced statements by a 10-year-old girl against her parents, against her father”, resulting in “defamation and falsehoods”, Safeguard Defenders campaign director Laura Hardt told Radio France Internationale.

“It is CCP propaganda, that is really rampant, especially on CGTN,” she added.

Peter Dahlin, the founder and director of Safeguard Defenders, told Breitbart London on Sunday: “We believe CGTN will never broadcast according to rules and norms unless held accountable.”

Mr Dahlin previously served in helping provide legal aid to rural areas of China, before being accused of inciting “opposition to the government”, ultimately being forced to “confess” to his so-called crimes on CGTN.

He said that the Chinese government — which is in full control of CGTN — “cannot continue to be able to violate agreements and laws without accountability”.

“Our own campaign is focused specifically on [CGTN’s] cooperation in carrying out, and airing, severe human rights violations, often in violation of our broadcasting rules, and must be held accountable for it,” Dahlin said, adding: “Our aim is to stop these violations, not to have CGTN banned as such.”

The Chinese broadcaster has also come under fire in France for allegedly employing a fake French journalist to tout the wonders of Xinjiang and to denounce Western critiques of the genocidal actions taken by the CCP in the region, where she allegedly spends much of her time.

China has stridently proclaimed that the “freelance journalist” named Laurene Beaumond is, in fact, a real person, despite a report from the French newspaper Le Monde pointing to the contrary, as no person has been registered as a journalist, or as a graduate of the university CGTN alleged she attended, in France under her name.

A person claiming to be Beaumond told Le Figaro that she was writing under a pseudonym in order to avoid repercussions for ostensibly spouting CCP propaganda.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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