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China 5 July 2002

BBC World TV broadcasts suspended by the authorities


Chinese officials, including some from the China international TV Corporation, confirmed on 5 July, to Agence France-Presse, that BBC World broadcasts had been blocked for "breaking Chinese regulations concerning the reception of foreign programs". The authorities did not specify the type of violation nor the length of the sanction.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today deplored China’s suspension of satellite relays of the British TV network BBC World following a programme mentioning Beijing’s crackdown on the outlawed Falungong movement and called for the ban to be lifted at once.

"The Chinese authorities are once again showing that to them freedom of expression just means favourable articles and reports," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Chinese foreign affairs minister Tang Jiaxuan.

"We fear this kind of measure will lead international media distributed in China to exercise self-censorship when it comes to sensitive topics." He also called for other foreign TV news broadcasts to be made freely available to the Chinese people.

BBC World confirmed today that its transmissions by the Chinese satellite Sinasat-1 had been blocked. "We are trying to find out exactly why," a spokesman told Reporters Without Borders, adding that it was probably because of a programme that went out on 1 July marking the anniversary of the return of Hongkong to Chinese rule and including references to the Falungong.

The Chinese authorities refused to answer questions about the ban from the Associated Press news agency. BBC World has been allowed to broadcast to China since January last year, but only to luxury hotels and buildings where foreigners live. The present suspension is the first since then.

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