Ofcom has launched a formal investigation into an allegation that China Global Television Network (CGTN), the international news channel of China Central Television (CCTV), aired a confession forced from a British private investigator while imprisoned in China.
Ofcom said it would probe whether CGTN had broken the UK broadcasting code. In the UK, CGTN airs on platforms including Sky and Freesat. If found in breach of the code, Ofcom has the power to deliver sanctions ranging from on-air apologies to substantial fines and, in the most serious cases, revoking UK broadcast licences.
The media regulator has moved to launch an official probe after assessing a fairness and privacy complaint filed by Peter Humphrey in November. “We have decided to investigate a fairness and privacy complaint about news programmes broadcast on CCTV News,” said a spokeswoman for Ofcom. “If we find our rules have been broken, we will take the appropriate action.”
Humphrey, who worked as a journalist in the 1980s and 90s and was once a fellow at Harvard University, and his American wife, Yu Yingzeng, were imprisoned in China in 2013 on charges of illegally trading in personal information. They subsequently appeared on Chinese state television, and internationally including on its English-language channel broadcast in Britain, making a public confession.