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China Global Television Network (CGTN; or ) (until 2016, CCTV International) is the international division of the state-owned media organization China Central Television (CCTV), the headquarters of which is in Beijing, China. CGTN broadcasts six news channels in six languages. CGTN is registered under the State Council of the People's Republic of China and is under the control of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party. General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping described CGTN's goal as to "tell China's story well." Critics have accused CGTN of broadcasting propaganda and disinformation on behalf of the Chinese government, and airing forced confessions.

History

CGTN grew out of CCTV's all-English channel, known as CCTV-9 or CCTV International, launched in 2000 and re-named CCTV News in 2010. In December 2016, six non-Chinese language television channels under CCTV International were rebranded to bear the CGTN name.


U.S. designation as foreign mission


In 2018, the United States Department of Justice directed CGTN America, the U.S. division of CGTN, to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). CGTN America said in its FARA filings on 1 February 2019 that it disagreed with the Justice Department's decision, but registered nonetheless. In 2020, the United States Department of State designated CGTN and its parent company, CCTV, as foreign missions.


Channels




Reaction

Observers have noted that the "aim f CGTNis to influence public opinion overseas in order to nudge foreign governments into making policies favourable towards China’s Communist party" through subtle means. Researchers Thomas Fearon and Usha M. Rodrigues argued that CGTN has a "dichotomous role as a credible media competing for audience attention on the world stage, and a vital government propaganda organ domestically." According to James Palmer at ''Foreign Policy'', the contrasting aims of RT (formerly Russia Today) and CGTN, "mirrors wider strategies: Moscow wants chaos it can exploit, while Beijing wants a stable world order—on its terms". Critics have accused CGTN of broadcasting misinformation and making false allegations against opponents of the Chinese government. The network has been investigated and censured by Britain's Ofcom for allegations of biased coverage of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests and the airing of forced confessions. CGTN has been characterized as a vehicle for government propaganda and disinformation campaigns by Reporters Without Borders, BBC, and other sources.

Alleged forced confessions

CCTV broadcast two forced confessions of the British journalist Peter Humphrey. The first was staged in August 2013, was filmed by a CCTV crew with Humphrey locked in an iron chair inside a steel cage, wearing handcuffs and an orange prison vest. This was before he had been indicted, tried or convicted of a crime. The second, in July 2014, was once again filmed by CCTV, not in a cage this time, but still in a prison vest and handcuffs, before he had been tried or convicted on the charge of illegal information gathering. Both were aired in the UK by CGTN. On November 23, 2018, Humphrey filed a complaint to Ofcom against CCTV, citing violations of the United Kingdom Broadcasting Code's Fairness and Privacy provisions. Humphrey said that both confessions were scripted and directed by the Chinese police, the public security bureau, while he was a prisoner, in conditions of duress amounting to torture. On 6 July 2020, Ofcom ruled that CGTN was guilty of breaching UK broadcasting standards in both incidents. The ruling stated that CGTN had breached Humphrey's privacy and that in the channel's reporting, "material facts were presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to Mr Humphrey". In November 2019, CGTN aired a video of a UK consular employee, Simon Cheng, in captivity "confessing" to consorting with prostitutes. Within a week, Cheng had filed a complaint with Ofcom. In March 2021, because of human rights concerns involving the broadcast of forced confessions, SBS television network in Australia suspended the broadcast of Chinese TV news services CGTN, a 15-minute English service, and CCTV, a 30-minute Mandarin language service, that were broadcast on SBS as part of its World Watch program.

Accusations of bias and disinformation

On 18 September 2019, Nick Pollard, a British TV executive, resigned from his post as consultant and advisor to CGTN, giving his reason for leaving as being CGTN's failure to comply with Ofcom's rules on impartiality in connection to its coverage of the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests. He had joined CGTN in December 2018. Ofcom had several inquiries into CGTN going on in September 2019. A September 2019 article in ''The Diplomat'' stated that CGTN "has a consistent record of blatantly and egregiously violating journalistic standards and encouraging or justifying hatred and violence against innocent people." In April 2020, the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders criticized CGTN for engaging in disinformation regarding COVID-19. The United States Department of State described CGTN's output on COVID-19 as part of a wider government-led disinformation campaign.


Detained Australian journalist


In August 2020, Australian CGTN television anchor Cheng Lei was detained by Chinese authorities on national security grounds but no details of accusations were provided.

Revocation of UK broadcasting license

On 4 February 2021, Star China Media (the UK broadcast license holder for CGTN) had its broadcast license revoked by UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Ofcom found that Star had no editorial oversight over the channel it was broadcasting, and was instead acting as a third-party distributor for CGTN's feed. Ofcom also denied an application to transfer the broadcast license to the China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC), on the grounds that CGTNC was "controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party". UK law prohibits license holders from being controlled by political bodies. In a statement, Ofcom said:
We have given CGTN significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules. Those efforts have now been exhausted. Following careful consideration, taking account of all the facts and the broadcaster’s and audience's rights to freedom of expression, we have decided it is appropriate to revoke the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK. We expect to conclude separate sanctions proceedings against CGTN for due impartiality and fairness and privacy breaches shortly.
In what CNN Business characterised as "an apparent tit-for-tat move", the Chinese government on 11 February banned the BBC World News TV channel from airing in China. Given that BBC World News could only be received in so-called foreign compounds (such as internationally-owned hotels) in mainland China in the first place, it was unclear what impact, if any, this ban would have. CGTN later sought and received agreement from French regulatory authorities to broadcast in France, which would allow them to broadcast in member states of the Council of Europe, including the United Kingdom.


French journalist controversy


In March 2021, an investigation by ''Le Monde'' claimed that a supposed French journalist for CGTN named "Laurène Beaumond" was a fabricated identity. ''Le Figaro'' disputed this, saying "Beaumond" was a real French journalist from Sarthe, but had been publishing for CGTN under a pseudonym. ''Le Figaro'' said they had interviewed "Beaumond", under the condition that her true identity be kept secret.

References



External links

* {{Authority control Category:International broadcasters Category:24-hour television news channels in China Category:English-language television stations Category:Chinese propaganda organisations Category:Commercial-free television networks Category:Mass media in Beijing Category:Foreign television channels broadcasting in the United Kingdom Category:Television channels in the Netherlands Category:Television channels in Belgium Category:Television channels in Flanders Category:Television channels and stations established in 1997 Category:1997 establishments in China Category:2016 establishments in China Category:Disinformation operations