UK media regulator Ofcom has opened an investigation into whether China’s state broadcaster broke its rules by airing the confession of a British citizen.
The probe was launched after a complaint was filed to Ofcom in 2018 by Peter Humphrey, a former journalist who was working as a corporate investigator when he was arrested in China in 2013.
Humphrey has accused China Central Television (CCTV) and its international division, China Global Television Network (CGTN), of airing and distributing what he describes as a forced confession.
“We have decided to investigate a fairness and privacy complaint about news programmes broadcast on CCTV News,” a spokesperson for Ofcom said in an email on Wednesday.
“If we find our rules have been broken, we will take the appropriate action,” the spokesperson added.
Ofcom can impose fines on media outlets and pull the broadcast licenses of television networks that breach UK broadcasting standards. CGTN is available in the United Kingdom.
Humphrey was arrested along with his wife and accused of illegally obtaining private information while consulting for GlaxoSmithKline. He later appeared on Chinese television making what he described as a forced confession obtained during two interviews.
“Both fake interviews procured under conditions tantamount to torture were broadcast and rebroadcast, by both CCTV and its international arm CGTN, upon orders from the Chinese state and without my consent,” Humphrey wrote in his complaint. He described both interviews as “heavily edited.”
The couple were later convicted and spent nearly two years in jail before being deported from China in 2015. Humphrey said he did not file his complaint until 2018 because he was being treated for cancer and post traumatic stress disorder.
CGTN did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The network has recently expanded in the United Kingdom, opening a new broadcasting center last year just outside of London.
In February, the US Justice Department forced the network’s outlet in the country to register as a foreign agent.