China has banned BBC World News from broadcasting in the country, its television and radio regulator announced on Thursday.
China has criticised the BBC for its reporting on coronavirus and the persecution of ethnic minority Uighurs.
The BBC said it was “disappointed” by the decision.
It follows British media regulator Ofcom revoking state broadcaster China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence to broadcast in the UK.
Separately, the broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) said it would stop relaying BBC World Service programming in the region, prompting condemnation from the BBC.
China’s State Film, TV and Radio Administration said that BBC World News reports about China were found to “seriously violate” broadcast guidelines, including “the requirement that news should be truthful and fair” and not “harm China’s national interests”.
It said that the BBC’s application to air for another year would not be accepted.
The BBC said in a statement: “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action. 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 commercially funded BBC World News TV channel broadcasts globally in English. In China it is largely restricted and appears only in international hotels and some diplomatic compounds, meaning most Chinese people cannot view it.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the move an “unacceptable curtailing of media freedom”.
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The US State Department condemned the decision, calling it part of a wider campaign to suppress free media in China.
In Hong Kong, the publicly-funded broadcaster RTHK said it was suspending the relaying of BBC World Service radio. It had previously aired it daily from 23:00 to 07:00. It also removed a weekly Cantonese programme from the BBC’s Chinese Service from its schedule.
BBC World News TV channel broadcasts, however, are still available in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, is expected to retain certain rights and freedoms, including freedom of press, until 2047, as part of a handover agreement between China and Britain.
Hong Kong Journalists Association chairman Chris Yeung Kin-hing told the South China Morning Post that RTHK’s decision was “disturbing and worrying”, amid questions about whether RTHK was instructed to act by the authorities.
The RTHK union also called the decision “extremely regrettable”, adding: “Under the policy of One Country Two Systems, we’ve never seen Hong Kong being required to follow decisions of China’s State Film, TV and Radio Administration before”.
Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority said it “did not set boundaries” and that decisions were up to individual operators.