CHINA: Censor blocks sensitive issues in BBC series

BBC World story about Xinjiang cut off seconds after reporter says Uygur people "have little affections for their Chinese Masters"

South China Morning Post
Saturday, March 12, 2005

Beijing -- The BBC's China Week did not sit well with mainland censors.

Transmissions of the BBC World channel's week-long series of mainland-themed programmes to hotels and apartment compounds for foreigners were repeatedly blocked yesterday during reports on politics and other sensitive issues.

A story about restive Uygurs in Xinjiang was cut off after just seconds. The screen went black after a BBC correspondent said: "But the Uygur people have little affection for their Chinese masters."

Beijing allows transmissions of foreign channels such as BBC World - the BBC's international television channel - and other foreign channels to hotels and apartment compounds for foreigners. But the broadcasts are closely monitored, and reports on politics, religion and other sensitive issues are routinely blacked out.

BBC World and other foreign channels are not licensed for cable distribution to local households, but millions of unlicensed satellite dishes give them a wide audience.

The BBC described China Week as "a themed series of news reports and programmes exploring one of the world's most dynamic countries".

The programmes feature more than 60 journalists reporting from cities and rural areas throughout the mainland. Interview subjects range from China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, to Hollywood martial arts star Jet Li.

The programmes include an edition of the audience participation show Question Time, recorded in Shanghai and featuring mainland officials and government critics.