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Open Letter: Opposing Ofcom’s ban on China’s English-language TV channel is defending free speech

Veteran journalist John Pilger and film-makers Oliver Stone and Ken Loach among signatories to open letter calling for Britain to reverse ban on Chinese state broadcaster

THE DECISION by Ofcom to remove the broadcasting licence of CGTN 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 Televisions, 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.

John Pilger, prize-winning journalist

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 Navarette, journalist and documentary filmmaker

Fiona Edwards, No Cold War campaign

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