In the previous article “Politics and the Media - Part 1”, thanks to a few examples of television TV networks belonging to Italy and Russia, it was possible to grasp some aspects of the influence of state power on television channels. In this article we will refer to two other states, very different from each other and from the previous treaties: Great Britain and China.
The longest-running television station in the world, and universally recognized as one of the most authoritative voices in the field of news distribution related to national and international contexts, is precisely the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC - founded in 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd - is an English public service operator. Its work is governed mainly by the institutional regulatory framework such as the Broadcasting Act 1990 and the Broadcasting Act 1996, following the principles of free information and impartiality. The historic company motto "Nation shall speak peace unto Nation", symbol of the desire - still today - to offer British citizens a timely and apolitical information service, remains famous. Since its inception, BBC-sponsored broadcasts have been suspended exclusively during World War II and resumed in 1946; its monopoly of information channels was almost total until the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of similar new entities, but they never reached the quality level of BBC services.
The organizational structure of the BBC is in fact one of the world’s most accredited models as functional, economical, but above all capable of producing profits. In order to ensure that the BBC’s work is as free as possible from parliamentary political influences, the Queen of England, on the advice of the Premier, appoints a Trust Committee consisting of twelve people. The members of the Trust are non-political but prominent figures in the fields of culture, media and economy; they do not actively intervene in the management of the BBC, but they appoint the Director-General and the members of the Executive Board, and then just monitor the work and make sure that the TV is actually independent, thus introducing the Creative Commons license first.
This system undermines any attempt by a government to influence state TV, ensuring its political impartiality.
The services of the BBC channels are not limited to the English territory, but their validity is widely recognized also abroad, in particular the BBC World News channel. In the years of digitization, the company was able to occupy a prominent place on the web thanks to its BBC Online website.
The central government of the People’s Republic of China is characterized by its strict control policies on information channels. The largest television station in mainland China is China Central Television (CCTV). It was founded in 1958 as a state agency to guide Chinese information and public conscience; its political ideology matches that of the Chinese Communist Party, becoming an important tool of propaganda and defamation against the enemies of the party itself.
CCTV services, guided by the desire for social rehabilitation, offer a wide range of channels: from entertainment to information and sport. During the 1990s, as a result of a reduction in state funding in support of CCTV, advertisements were introduced to obtain income from private companies. The introduction of advertising - an almost obvious feature in the eyes of a Westerner - can be read as a further symbol of the political change of the country, increasingly distant from an old-fashioned communist regime, and closer to a Market Socialism.
At the end of 2016 China launched a new global broadcast channel: the China Global Television Network (CGTN), with offices in several countries and broadcast in various languages. The CGTN aims to bring the Chinese point of view on history and international events, and seems to enjoy a solid financial base, unlike its western competitors.
Disputes between China and U.K.
Recently, friction has arisen between Beijing and London over the broadcasts sponsored by the two State TV stations in their respective territories. Following the release of news from the BBC (relating, for example, to the street clashes during the Hong Kong protests, the intensification of the repression of the Uyghur community in Xingjiang and finally the pandemic management caused by the Covid-19 virus)The Chinese government has accused the British television agency of spreading distorted news influenced by "ideological prejudice", thus revoking the agreements with the BBC to broadcast in Chinese territory and permanently obscuring the channel.
In return, the British Government, which supports the impartiality of its own network, interrupted CGTN’s broadcasts on British territory. In other words, an international fight, no holds barred, on live TV.