It would be hard to argue against "fairness" and "truthfulness" being two of the key qualities that most likely characterise BBC News in the minds of the global news viewing audience. Not so, according to China’s National Radio and Television Administration (the Chinese media regulator) who on Friday last week banned BBC World News from continuing to air inside China. 

The body accused the BBC of failing to meet the requirement for news to be truthful and fair, and further accused the BBC of damaging China’s national interests and undermining China’s national unity.

The reality of the ban likely stems from two factors, the first is the Chinese government's unhappiness at the BBC's recent news reporting, specifically on the alleged rape and torture of women in “reeducation” camps for Uighurs which the Chinese government maintains are “completely unfounded”, and further on the issue of the coronavirus where the BBC broadcast footage late last year of what appeared to be Chinese residents being aggressively hauled away for testing by authorities, later questioning whether China’s death figures could be trusted. 

However the second, and likely most significant factor behind the decision to block BBC broadcasts, is the UK's media regulator's (Ofcom) decision to withdraw the UK broadcast license from China Global Television Network (which is China’s English language news channel), on the grounds that CGTN's latest filing to transfer its license to a new entity, contained misleading and missing information about its ownership. According to Ofcom, the actual new owner of CGTN would have been disqualified from holding a license as it would be controlled by a body ultimately directed by the Chinese Communist Party. China’s National Radio and Television Administration move therefore smacks largely of retaliation. 

Ofcom's decision to withdraw the license has already had further negative repercussions for CGTN in Europe, with the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia withdrawing permission for broadcasters to air CGTN programmes in its territory.