China’s NRTA claimed in its statement that BBC World News had broadcast reports on China that “infringed the principles of truthfulness and impartiality in journalism.”
On February 4, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the broadcaster for its coverage of China’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and dismissed its reports as “fake news.”
“We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action,” a BBC spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business. “The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favor.”
Frustrations over coverage
Beijing has also repeatedly expressed frustration with BBC reporting on China’s crackdown on Uyghur and other ethnic Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.
Beijing — which maintains that the camps are vocational training centers that help to deradicalize citizens — has accused the broadcaster of going on “a spree to spread explicit falsehoods about China’s policy” in the region. The BBC has said it stands by its reporting as fair and accurate.
It is unclear how much impact China’s ban of BBC World News will have in mainland China. The BBC has never been allowed to broadcast in mainland China or into Chinese homes. BBC World News was only ever been available in international hotels.
The decision to yank BBC News off Chinese airwaves comes just a week after British media regulators pulled the license of China’s state-owned international news channel CGTN. Ofcom said at the time that the broadcaster’s owner, Star China Media Limited, did not have “editorial responsibility” for the channel’s output, and therefore “does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service.”
Regulators also rejected a proposal by CGTN to transfer the license to a new entity after finding that it would ultimately still be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and therefore disqualified under UK law.
That move followed longstanding tensions between British regulators and the Chinese broadcaster. Ofcom had previously ruled that CGTN repeatedly breached impartiality standards with its coverage of protests in Hong Kong.
— Lauren Kent, Charles Riley, Julia Horowitz and Sophie Jeong contributed to this report.