Letter: Opposing Ofcom’s ban on CGTN and defending free speech

Ofcom’s decision to remove the broadcasting license of CGTN – China’s English language TV channel – is an act of censorship which is not in the interests of Britain and its people. It is well known, and publicly acknowledged, that CGTN is a Chinese state broadcaster and viewers can therefore take this into account in judging its services and broadcasts. As a state television broadcaster, CGTN’s status is similar to that of the BBC, France Télévisions, NHK (Japan), and others.

Ofcom’s justification for taking CGTN off air is that any holder of a broadcasting licence in Britain must not be controlled by political bodies. However, this law is only selectively applied. Numerous private and state channels have clear political agendas or control – the BBC itself, for example, which had its staff vetted by MI5 has not had its broadcasting licence revoked.

This attack on free speech also takes place in the context of the threat of a new cold war against China. At such a moment, it is crucial to build mutual understanding between peoples and also to accurately comprehend the positions of the chief actors in the global situation. Denying a voice to China’s CGTN hampers this.

Britain’s claim to be a free society is undermined by Ofcom’s decision to shut down CGTN. We call upon the British authorities to reverse this decision and to reinstate CGTN’s broadcasting licence.

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  • Oliver Stone, three time Oscar winning director, producer and screenwriter
  • Tariq Ali, writer, filmmaker and New Left Review Editorial Board
  • Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Editor of The Canary  
  • Ben Chacko, Editor of the Morning Star
  • Vijay Prashad, Chief Correspondent of Globetrotter
  • Ken Loach, award-winning filmmaker
  • Jonathan Cook, award-winning author and journalist
  • Lowkey, Musician and activist
  • Anna Chen, Writer, poet and broadcaster
  • Asa Winstanley, journalist
  • Alan Macleod, Senior Staff Writer at MintPress News
  • John McEvoy, journalist
  • Mohamed Elmaazi journalist
  • Pablo Navarrete, journalist and documentary filmmaker
  • Dr Helen Yaffe, academic, historian and author
  • Professor David Miller
  • Fiona Edwards, No Cold War campaign