China’s state broadcaster turns to France for license to broadcast in Europe after losing UK rights

China's state broadcaster turns to France for license to broadcast in Europe after losing UK rights

Rebecca Rosman

·2-min read
 
 
A CGTN studio is seen at the CCTV headquarters in Beijing - Reuters
 
A CGTN studio is seen at the CCTV headquarters in Beijing – Reuters

China’s state news broadcaster is asking France’s media watchdog for permission to continue airing in Europe, after a UK regulator stripped the network of its licence earlier this month.

France’s Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) confirmed to the Financial Times (FT) on Sunday that it was reviewing a request by China Global Television Network (CGTN) filed in December.

The UK regulator Ofcom revoked CGTN’s license following an investigation which concluded that the network didn’t have “editorial responsibility” over its content, making it illegal to broadcast in the UK.

Unlike the UK, France does not have any laws that prohibit state-controlled media from broadcasting in the country.

Still, a spokesperson for France’s media watchdog told the FT that it would carry out “additional analysis” in its review in light of Ofcom’s ruling. CGTN launched its European hub in London less than two years ago.

The network is hoping France will let it stay in Europe under rules outlined in a decades-old treaty signed by the Council of Europe, a 47-member pan-European organisation of which France, the UK and China are all members.

The treaty states that an international broadcaster can air in any member country as long as it falls under the jurisdiction of one member. If the CSA determines CGTN falls under its jurisdiction, it could grant the network permission to continue to broadcast in the UK, as the treaty is separate to and not affected by Brexit.

The affair has increased tensions between China and the UK, and left other European countries a difficult situation.

Several distributors that broadcast CGTN in Germany have temporarily stopped airing the channel. Meanwhile, the channel is still available for streaming online.

In response to Ofcom’s decision, China’s National Radio and Television Administration announced earlier this month it was barring BBC World News from continuing to air in China and Hong Kong.

In a statement, the BBC’s Director-General Tim Davie called Beijing’s decision “deeply worrying.”