China Global Television Network

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China Global Television Network (CGTN)
TypeState media
BrandingCGTN
Country
China
AvailabilityGlobal
SloganSee the difference.
HeadquartersCCTV Headquarters, Beijing
OwnerChina Central Television
Established2016
Launch date
31 December 2016, 04:00 London Time/12:00 Beijing Time
Official website
cgtn.com
China Global Television Network
Simplified Chinese中国国际电视台
Traditional Chinese中國國際電視台
Literal meaningChina International Television Station
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中国环球电视网
Traditional Chinese中國環球電視網
Literal meaningChina Global Television Network

China Global Television Network (CGTN; Chinese: 中国国际电视台; pinyin: Zhōngguó guójì diànshìtái or Chinese: 中国环球电视网; pinyin: Zhōngguó Huánqiú Diànshì Wǎng[1]) (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 and general interest channels in six languages.[2][3] CGTN is registered under the State Council of the People's Republic of China and is under the control of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.[2][4] General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping described CGTN's goal as to "tell China's story well."[5]

Critics have accused CGTN of broadcasting propaganda and disinformation on behalf of the Chinese government, and airing forced confessions.[5][6][7][8]

History[edit]

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.[9] Channels in other languages were launched during the mid and late 2000s. In December 2016, the six non-Chinese language television channels under CCTV International were rebranded to bear the CGTN name.[10][11]

U.S. designation as foreign mission[edit]

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).[12] CGTN America said in its FARA filings on 1 February 2019 that it disagreed with the Justice Department's decision, but registered nonetheless.[13] In 2020, the United States Department of State designated CGTN and its parent company, CCTV, as foreign missions.[14][15]

Channels[edit]

Name Language Launch date Previous name
CGTN English 20 September 1997
  • CCTV-9
  • CCTV News
CGTN Español Spanish 1 October 2007[16]
  • CCTV-E
  • CCTV Español
CGTN Français French 1 October 2007[16]
  • CCTV-F
  • CCTV Français
CGTN العربية Arabic 25 July 2009 CCTV العربية
CGTN Русский Russian 10 September 2009 CCTV Русский
CGTN Documentary English 1 January 2011 CCTV-9 Documentary
CGTN Africa English 11 January 2012
CGTN America English 6 February 2012
CGTN Europe English 8 October 2019

Reception[edit]

Observers have noted that the "aim [of CGTN] is to influence public opinion overseas in order to nudge foreign governments into making policies favourable towards China’s Communist party" through subtle means.[17] 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."[18] 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".[19]

Critics have accused CGTN of broadcasting misinformation and making false allegations against opponents of the Chinese government.[4] 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.[6][20][21][22][23] CGTN has been characterized as a vehicle for government propaganda and disinformation campaigns by Reporters Without Borders, BBC, and other sources.[4][5][24][25][26]

Alleged forced confessions[edit]

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.[27] Both were aired in the UK by CGTN.[28]

On 23 November 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.[28][29] 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".[6]

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.[30] On 8 March 2021, CGTN was fined a total of £225,000 by Ofcom for serious breaches of fairness, privacy and impartiality rules. “We found the individuals (Simon Cheng and Gui Minhai) concerned were unfairly treated and had their privacy unwarrantably infringed,” Ofcom said, adding that the broadcaster had “failed to obtain their informed consent to be interviewed.” It concluded that “material facts which cast serious doubt on the reliability of their alleged confessions” had been left out of the programmes, which aired pre-trial “confessions” of the two men while they were being detained. Ofcom said it was considering further sanctions.[31]

In March 2021, the Australian television network SBS suspended the English and Mandarin broadcasts of CGTN and CCTV respectively, which were broadcast on SBS as part of its World Watch program, over human rights complaints concerning the airings of "forced confessions."[8][32]

Accusations of bias and disinformation[edit]

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.[33] He had joined CGTN in December 2018.[34] Ofcom had several inquiries into CGTN going on in September 2019.[35]

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."[36]

In April 2020, the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders criticized CGTN for engaging in disinformation regarding COVID-19.[7] The United States Department of State described CGTN's output on COVID-19 as part of a wider government-led disinformation campaign.[37]

Detained Australian journalist[edit]

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.[38][39][40]

Revocation of UK broadcasting license[edit]

On 4 February 2021, Star China Media (the UK broadcast license holder for CGTN) had its broadcast license revoked by UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom.[41] 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.[41] 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".[42] UK law prohibits license holders from being controlled by political bodies.[43] 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.[44]

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.[45]

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.[46]

French journalist controversy[edit]

In March 2021, an investigation by Le Monde claimed that a supposed French journalist for CGTN named "Laurène Beaumond" was a fabricated identity.[47] 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.[48]

Accusation of antisemitism[edit]

In May 2021, Israel's embassy in Beijing accused CGTN of "blatant antisemitism" when it broadcast an antisemitic canard during the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis.[49][50][51]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]