Chinese state TV could face fine in UK for biased HK coverage

CTGN in hot water for only showing pro-China viewpoint

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Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong protests (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — British communications regulators have found Chinese state broadcaster CGTN in breach of U.K. broadcasting rules for its biased reporting of the Hong Kong protests last year.

In a 61-page report, Ofcom, the U.K.'s communications regulator, said it was considering sanctions for China's English-language station CGTN over "a serious failure of compliance" in its decision not to represent anti-Beijing viewpoints during its coverage of the 2019 Hong Kong protests. Star China Media Limited (SCML) holds the license for CGTN in the U.K.

The investigation by the watchdog focused on four episodes of "The World Today" and one episode of "China24" that were aired between Aug. 11 and Nov. 21 of last year. Ofcom concluded the channel often centered its coverage on violence against police by protesters, while understating attacks by authorities on the public, according to the Guardian.

An Ofcom spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday (May 26) that the five news programs "failed to preserve due impartiality." The release went on to say that "The reports, which covered the protests in Hong Kong and related developments, did not give due weight to a wide range of voices on this matter of major political controversy.”

In response, the Chinese broadcaster claimed that its "small U.K. audience would be unlikely to be surprised by the Chinese views aired on CGTN and would be able to evaluate these in the context of the mainstream positions presented on other media.”

CTGN also said that "as a Chinese public broadcaster" it was "particularly challenging" to find protesters willing to go on camera because "they are hostile to the media from mainland China and to Mandarin-speaking reporters." It then cited an example of one of its Hong Kong-based reporters being turned down for comments after trying to approach or contact more than 50 young protesters or opposition figures.

Ofcom responded by saying that just because pro-democracy protestors were unwilling to go on camera, it did not mean that CGTN was unable to provide alternative views. It will now consider whether to impose sanctions, which could include a hefty fine, on the Chinese broadcaster.