The UK audiovisual regulator fined Chinese-English news channel CGTN on Monday (8) for breaching privacy and bias in four separate cases, shortly after angering Beijing by withdrawing its broadcast license.
In the context of heightened diplomatic tension between London and Beijing, Chinese public television received two fines totaling 225,000 pounds ($310,000, 260,000 euros).
The reason is that it violated its obligations of impartiality in covering the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019 and violated the privacy of journalist Peter Humphrey when he reported his arrest in China.
Humphrey, who worked in China as a private researcher for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison in August 2014 for violating Chinese privacy laws. He was released and deported in 2015.
In another ruling, regulator Ofcom found CGTN guilty of unfair treatment and breach of privacy for two claimants and has not yet commented on potential penalties.
The first concerns Simon Cheng, a former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong, who disappeared in 2019. He claimed that he was tortured by the Chinese secret police.
CGTN released a police video showing a man presented as Cheng, who appears to have admitted having contact with prostitutes, a charge he denied, saying he was forced to make such statements.
The second decision concerns Gui Minhai, a nationalized Chinese Swede who published lewd books about Chinese leaders at a Hong Kong publishing house.
Last year, a Chinese court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for “illegally spreading false information abroad” while his entourage denounced political persecution.
Ofcom reprimanded CGTN for treating their case unfairly.
In early February, the regulator withdrew the channel’s license, claiming it was under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. Since then, China has banned the broadcast of BBC World News on its territory, without officially linking it to the status of CGTN.
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