Ofcom fines Chinese state-owned broadcaster £200,000

Still from CGTN broadcastImage source, Getty Images
  • Published

Ofcom has fined a Chinese state-owned broadcaster £200,000 for failing to comply with broadcasting rules.

The fine comes six months after China Global Television Network (CGTN) had its UK broadcast licence suspended by the media regulator.

Ofcom said it had imposed the fine on parent company Star China Media Limited (SCML), the UK licence holder of CGTN, for breaches of its rules around fairness and privacy.

The regulator revoked CGTN's licence in February after an Ofcom investigation found the international English-language satellite news channel was controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law.

At the time, Ofcom said SCML "did not have editorial responsibility" over the English-language satellite news channel. "As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service, and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee."

In the UK, broadcasting laws say licensees must have control over their service and its editorial policies.

Instead of SCML, Ofcom said an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation was "the ultimate decision maker" over CGTN's programmes. But the regulator said it was unable to transfer the licence to that company because it is "ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party".

The network has been issued with two £100,000 fines relating to two separate complaints about unfair treatment of individuals in programmes broadcast on CGTN - and CCTV as it was formerly known - between 2016 and 2019.

Both complaints related to how programming treated individuals and their alleged confessions to crimes.

In both cases, Ofcom said it had found that CGTN had failed to take "appropriate steps to satisfy itself that material facts had not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair" to the individuals involved.

Ofcom had already fined the broadcaster £225,000 in March for breaching fairness, privacy and due impartiality rules.