China’s CGTN cannot broadcast in Europe following British revocation of license

CCTV headquarters, the home of Chinese state media outlet CCTV and its English-language sister channel CGTN, in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy: CCTV)

(, Feb13’21) – Losing its license to broadcast in the UK has meant that China’s party-state-run China Global Times Network (CGTN) cannot be aired in Germany as well. This is because according to an agreement among several European countries, CGTN’s license in Germany had been approved by UK’s regulatory authority Ofcom as part of a license sharing initiative, reported Feb 12.

Other broadcast companies in Germany will also have to end distribution of CGTN, the report said.

Ofcom’s decision came after it found that CGTN’s license was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd. It said the Chinese Communist Party oversaw the network’s editorial policy, a violation of a British law forbidding political bodies from controlling broadcast license holders. CGTN was also under investigation for its one-sided as well as improper reporting of news stories, including a forced confession in China.

“We are currently informing cable providers that Ofcom had on Feb 4 revoked this channel’s UK license and that the program can therefore not be broadcast in Germany anymore,” a press spokesperson for the state media authority of North Rhine-Westphalia was reported to have confirmed Feb 12.

Vodafone Germany had also reported Feb 12 that it had ended distribution of the channel over its cable network in Nordrhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg, the report said, citing Reuters.

The “transfrontier television” agreement signed in 1989 states that a distribution license in one European country is valid across the continent, the report noted.

The deal was signed under the Council of Europe, of which the UK is still a member — CGTN’s licensing troubles have no connection to Brexit, the report said.

The agreement was signed by all EU member states as well as most of the Balkans and Ukraine. This means that CGTN may have to be switched off across the whole of Europe, although it is possible that being granted a license in one country could allow distribution to resume across the board.


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