British broadcast regulator Ofcom on Monday, March 8, imposed financial penalties on Chinese state broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN) for broadcasting forced confessions and biased coverage of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Ofcom fined the broadcaster US$138,359 (100, 000 pounds) following a complaint filed by a UK citizen, Peter Humphrey, who claimed he was forced to make a criminal confession broadcast by China Global Television Network (CGTN) in 2013.
The regulator ruled that CGTN, which was called CCTV News prior to 2016, “ought to have been aware that, in light of the fact he was confessing to offenses in advance of trial and in the presence of those who were holding him in custody, there were reasons to doubt whether Mr. Humphrey’s consent was genuine and informed.”
Separately, Ofcom fined the former CGTN licensee $172,929 (125,000 pounds) after finding the network in “serious breach” of UK fairness laws during its coverage of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The British agency ruled that five programs broadcast in 2019 covering pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had “failed to maintain due impartiality.”
Also on Monday, Ofcom released its final decisions on CGTN’s broadcasts of the coerced TV confessions of Simon Cheng, a former employee—general of the UK consulate in Hong Kong, and Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai.
Cheng was tortured and forced to make a televised confession when he was detained for 15 days in August 2019 by mainland Chinese police.
Gui, who sold books critical of the Chinese Communist Party’s political leadership while residing in Hong Kong, was detained by mainland police in 2018 and was also forced to appear on television confessing to his alleged crimes.
The English-language satellite broadcaster has long faced criticism for repeating the Communist Party line in its global broadcasts, being defined as a propaganda apparatus of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the international community.
Last month, Ofcom revoked its license after confirming that the licensee did not have editorial control over state-owned CGTN, detailing that the English-language satellite news channel was directly managed by the CCP.
UK law states that companies with broadcast licenses must have control of their service and cannot be controlled by political bodies.
“We have provided CGTN with numerous opportunities to comply with the rules, but it has failed to do so. We now consider it appropriate to withdraw the license for CGTN to broadcast in the UK,” an Ofcom representative said at the time.
CGTN also ran into conflicts in the United States, when the Trump administration in March 2020 designated it among Chinese state media outlets as “foreign missions” of the CCP.