(Reuters) – British television channel BBC World News was barred on Friday from airing in China, a week after Britain’s media regulator revoked Chinese state television’s licence to broadcast in the United Kingdom.
China’s National Radio and Television Administration said an investigation found BBC World News’ China-related reports had “seriously violated” regulations, including that news should be “truthful and fair,” had harmed the country’s national interests and undermined national unity.
The channel, therefore, does not meet requirements for foreign channels broadcasting in China and its application to air for another year would not be accepted, it added.
English-language BBC World News is not included in most TV channel packages in China, but is available in some hotels and residences.
Two Reuters journalists in China said the channel had gone blank on their screens.
China’s move was condemned by British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab and the U.S. State Department, while the BBC said it was “disappointed”.
“China’s decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom,” Raab said.
“China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”
At a regular news briefing, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the decision, adding:
“It’s troubling that as (China) restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation.”
Earlier this month, the State Department said it was “deeply disturbed” by reports carried by the BBC of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and said there must be serious consequences for atrocities there.
China denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang and said the BBC report was “wholly without factual basis”.
The BBC said it was disappointed by the decision of the Chinese authorities to bar BBC World News from broadcasting.
“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 favour,” the BBC said.
On Feb. 4, British media regulator Ofcom revoked China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence to broadcast in the United Kingdom after an investigation found the licence was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd.
China criticised the ruling as politicised and warned it reserved the right to make a “necessary response”.