China Banned BBC Broadcasting – the Action Controls Freedom of Speech

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China banned BBC
Image Credit: The Financial Express

China banned BBC, the famous news brands that broadcast world news. It is based in the UK and has been running since 1992. Now 1.4 billion Chinese people will not have the facility to watch the BBC network anymore. Here, we will discuss why this matters and shuns freedom of speech.

China banned BBC

The National Radio and Television Administration of China said that the country from now on wouldn’t continue broadcasting BBC World News in their country and Hong Kong. The authorities have accused BBC News of showing ‘fake news’ about the country’s administration. It aimed at mangling a country’s national interest.

The BBC said that the news network channel has always shown the most genuine incidents and informed international news to the audience with detailed and trusted research. The BBC reporting has always been without favoritism. It maintained impartiality and bravery to inform the world with stories from all around the world. The network conveyed disappointment after the Chinese government decided to ban their broadcasting from the country.

Why did China ban BBC?

The ban came in the scenario when BBC broadcasted stories of ill-treatment of Uighur people in Xinjiang province of China. The minority group faces several cases of abuse there.

The BBC report came on February 2, which said that alleged rapes were happening in the name of re-education of women. They faced immense torture there as well.

The government of China dismissed all allegations. They said they are trying to combat extremism in Xinjiang province and are trying to develop the vocational skills of the Uighur.

The world news network BBC showed another story that featured footage of authorities restraining people from getting Coronavirus tested. It raised the question of the death toll released by the Chinese government at all has any transparency.

The government of China strongly criticized BBC due to these Coronavirus and Xinjiang stories. CNBC requested the embassy of China to comment, but they restrained from commenting on the Coronavirus issue. Although, China’s government claimed that they had handled the Coronavirus situation in their country quite swiftly.

China faces flak from BBC

BBC protested over the ban of their channel in China, calling it an intrusion in freedom of media. The BBC head Tim Davie said on Saturday that China has clearly intruded into the media’s freedom.

The director-general of the channel said that the Chinese government’s recent decision is a matter of concern. They must not feel any disruption, fear, and favoritism while reporting.

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It is very unethical that journalists face restrictions doing their job. They should be able to do their job effectively, not curtailing the truth.

British Foreign secretary criticized China’s decision to ban BBC

Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary, called the “ban” on the BBC news in China an effort to disrupt media freedom in a very inadmissible form. He tweeted that China already has implemented a lot of major restrictions on the media in their country. The interference in internet usage also faces these restrictions. Now, this ban on famous world news networks only ruins the country’s reputation further to the world.

According to China’s The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (which is an association of professional journalists from Beijing), the National Radio and Television Administration of China initiated the BBC ban. They claimed BBC had maligned the national interest of China and its national unity.

The FCCC said that the ban was a warning to internationally operated news media. It’s a way of the Chinese government conveying the message that if they are not going to abide by the Chinese party, there will be consequences. The media must follow what the party said about the ethnic minority regions and Xinjiang.

CNBC recently talked to a BBC employee who chose to be anonymous for obvious reasons regarding China’s recent development. He said that it is a serious concern that China’s audience will not be able to access an impartial news site to this ban.

The technology analyst Matthew Brennan from China said that this ban on BBC did not surprise him, calling it a shameful decision.

Reasons that instigated the BBC ban in China

China’s ban on the BBC is a retaliation as the UK, Ofcom, removed the CGTN’s license. CGTN is a Chinese news network in the English language.

Ofcom said that  CGTN submitted misleading possession statements. The actual control of the channel lies in the Communist Party of China.

The Global News division, BBC, handles the news service internationally. The former director of that division Richard Sambrook told CNBC that banking their channel is just retribution to CGTN’s license removal.

China acted as expected and lived up to its reputation to hamper freedom of information. Sambrook now works as the Centre of Journalism’s director at Cardiff University. There was already a ban on Chinese language BBC news as well as their own website’s content. These retributions resemble China’s past actions like they used to do in times of the cold war. It is not something unusual for them.

Sambrook also said that these actions of China show the cold relationship which the UK and China share. It also instigates a more diplomatic distance between the West and China. He also said that ultimately BBC is a commercial organization. It will surely see a decline in revenues to some extent as they lost out a substantial audience.

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What is the impact?

Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism director Rasmus Nielsen said that the BBC ban and CGTN license fiasco is incomparable. CGTN faced issues regarding their ownership misrepresentation. BBC has experienced a ban over their content. The two issues are completely different. He added that CGTN is only absent from the television only. Anyone can access it online in the UK.

Nielsen said that CGTN has an insignificant amount of reach in terms of television distribution. The Chinese TV network had not crossed even a million viewers. Their viewership lies below the Sci-Fi Horror of the Sky Cinema’s half viewers.

CGTN mostly has an online audience, which is an arguable fact. The viewers can still consume CGTN’s content at their website, through Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Ofcom’s decision does not affect the channel’s content and hardly disrupts their minimal viewership in the UK.

China banned BBC – How big is the impact?

China banned BBC, but it will not affect the audience much, states well-known Chinese media analyst Kerry Allen. She works at BBC network as a writer, broadcaster, translator, and editor. Her work is to present the stories in terms of the Chinese media point of view.

The BBC news had a smaller reach in China as people in hotels or diplomatic compounds watched the world news. The country’s major viewers are familiar to see their screen going black when there is a negative story of China running.

Allen added that the Chinese media wanted to portray the UK’s image subduing the Chinese national interest. They did not want any reports to come out which were against the Chinese government. The Chinese government has been censoring media for many years now. Anything that contradicts the Chinese government’s rhetoric or shows the country in a bad light is automatically disapproved.

Allen said that Chinese people still can access the BBC radio and website through using the VPN

Ban is a political move—not just another censorship

Nielsen pointed out that banning BBC is a political move. It’s not just another usual censorship from China. He added that it was a warning from China that if anyone considers the country a soft power internationally, China will retaliate with these kinds of steps.

The international journalist now apprehensive about reporting sensitive stories of China. He thinks that there is a high amount of concern among international journalists. They are apprehensive that they are not going to be able to do their job freely in China. Especially if they’re reporting something that concerns the Chinese government and to what extent China could stop them.

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