The independent producer of a documentary about the persecution of Falun Gong that is scheduled to air on CBC Newsworld on November 20 says he was told Chinese officials have approached reporters in China about the film.
Peter Rowe, writer and producer of Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong, says an executive of CBC Newsworld told him Saturday morning about the pressure on CBC's China staff.
"He said reporters in China were pestered about this film by Chinese authorities."
Zhu Tao, an office manager at the CBC Beijing bureau, confirmed Tuesday that the Chinese authorities had recently contacted the bureau about a documentary.
He referred The Epoch Times to the CBC's Toronto office for details. CBC spokesman Jeff Keay says Chinese officials have also been in contact with CBC in Canada.
"We get repeated calls from them, but we haven't discussed the documentary with them."
Red Wall was initially set to air on CBC Newsworld's The Lens on Nov. 6, but was pulled hours before its scheduled airing time to be "reviewed," according to CBC.
A media storm was triggered after CBC officials admitted they had received calls from Chinese embassy and consulate officials who had expressed concerns about Red Wall. The CBC has continually denied that it was bowing to Chinese pressure by pulling the documentary.
CBC met with Rowe for five hours last Monday and presented about 30 changes, which Rowe agreed to.
"We did every single one of them," says Rowe. CBC set a new airing date of Nov. 20.
On Saturday morning Rowe said a Newsworld executive called and said the CBC had met for another four hours on Friday to further review the film. Rowe was asked to participate in making further changes to the film, but refused.
"They seem to be obsessed with trying to analyze every shot in the film to make sure that it meets with approval. All this attention has meant that probably there have been continued calls from the Chinese government."
Keay says the continuing edits are to ensure "accuracy and journalistic credibility," and that he's not aware of any pressure from Chinese officials, either over CBC's rights to broadcast the 2008 Olympics in Canada or for any other reason.
However, a Toronto Star news report says an interview clip in which a lawyer, Clive Ansley, draws an analogy between the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and the upcoming Games in Beijing has been removed. The quote reads:
"Hitler was the worst abuser of human rights on the planet at that time, so the International Olympics Committee rewarded his mass murders and atrocities by giving the Olympics to Germany in 1936. Today, China is the biggest abuser of human rights on the planet and once again the International Olympic Committee has said let's give them the Olympics in 2008."
Other changes include edits to the section that covers the illicit harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners' organs in China, taking information from a report on the practice authored by Canadian lawyer David Matas and former cabinet minister David Kilgour. A title card saying Amnesty International (AI) has not corroborated the report has now been added.
"We know enough about Chinese propaganda to guess what they are saying to CBC behind our backs. The statement that AI has not been able to corroborate our report is typical and typically misleading," Matas told The Epoch Times today.
Matas says AI's methodology, which insists on there being "two eye witnesses independent from each other, both of whom relate the same event, does not work where there are only perpetrators and victims and the victims are killed and their bodies cremated."
"AI silence on a human rights violation is not proof and not even evidence that the violation is not occurring. AI itself would say that," says Matas.
CBC has vigorously denied giving in to Chinese pressure and has said it was not given a fair shake by the press which largely criticized the pulling of the film.
CBC earlier told The Epoch Times that its editors and lawyers hadn't made any mistakes when they approved the film back in March. It was aired late at night without promotion and has since aired unedited in French Canada, New Zealand, Spain, and Portugal.
Last week, CBC Television executive vice-president Richard Stursberg met with the editorial board of the National Post newspaper and said the CBC intends to air the reworked documentary, despite continued objections by Chinese officials.
"The suggestion that somehow the CBC would spend its time bending to the pressure of the Chinese government really takes your breath away," he was quoted as saying.