China Bans Overseas Satellite Programs

August 12, 2007 Updated: August 12, 2007

The Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued an order last month to all local governments to ban “illegal” foreign satellite programs. According to mainland Chinese residents, even the pro-Communist Hong Kong based Phoenix Satellite TV is listed as “illegal,” and banned in many areas.

When The Epoch Times phoned the Beijing office of Phoenix Satellite TV inquiring about the matter, an employee said that the impact is small and limited to certain local areas. However, the Southern China Morning Post in Hong Kong quoted the station's management saying, “The Phoenix Satellite TV has become the major victim of this regulation. So far, it has lost at least 4 million customers in mainland.”

Phoenix Satellite TV is a company listed in Hong Kong stock market and the only overseas Chinese television media in the mainland TV market. Experts believe that the fact that even the pro-Communist Phoenix Satellite TV is targeted shows that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is losing its sense of security. It does not even trust its own people.

Tight Control over Phoenix Cable News

According to viewers Mr. Leung and Ms. Yang of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, they have not been able to receive the Phoenix News channels since August 1. The local cable company claimed they were acting on orders by the authorities.

A cable service provider in Guangzhou said that they received orders from upper authority requesting them not to supply major programs by Phoenix Satellite including news on current affairs, finance, and other news. However for the time being they can broadcast entertainment programs. She also mentioned that there are many local cable service providers. Not all of them have been notified and not all of them followed the orders right away.

A cable service provider in Shenzhen said that they received the notice and the core meaning is “to prevent the infiltration of the enemy's knowledge and culture.”

Not Trusting Their Own People

According to Zhao Dagong, a freelance writer from Shenzhen, it's understandable that Phoenix is affected.

“Even though Phoenix Satellite TV is subordinate to the CCP, some of its programs are made to suit the taste and market of Hong Kong viewers. If all programs are made just like the China Central Television (CCTV), no one is going to watch the shows and no one would advertise in the program,” said Zhao.

Jin Zhong, editor of Hong Kong Open Magazine said that “Under normal circumstances, sometimes when Phoenix Satellite makes decisions without consulting the CCP, the government would open one eye and close one eye. However, with the upcoming Olympics and the 17th CPC (Communist Party of China) National Congress, the CCP is losing its sense of security. It does not even trust its own people. That's why the Phoenix Satellite TV is also affected.”

Jin Zhong also said, “I think this is just temporary measure during the sensitive time. After all, the Phoenix Satellite TV is called 'associate CCTV' by people. Even though the CCP does not have complete faith in the Phoenix, they still need such media for their propaganda.”

Sticking to its Autocratic Nature will only Provoke More Conflict

Jin also said that the CCP is facing a very awkward situation. On one hand, they want to please the western world and prepare to host the upcoming Olympics. China has spent a lot of money and put in a lot of effort to build the image of a “civilized, open and free” country. However, its autocratic nature has caused endless domestic conflicts. There are many so-called “unstable factors” and uncontrollable situations. Grievances are building up everywhere from Beijing to rural areas. It is very incompatible with the image they try to build. The international community is seeing more and more of the true China. Its human rights situation is also drawing more and more attention, Jin said.

“Based on this kind of contradiction, the current tight control of overseas media, even including their own Phoenix Satellite TV, would only reflect the autocratic nature of the country. It will never be willing to truly open up the country and grant its people freedom,” Jin said.

Zhao Dagong said that “The increasingly strict control in China is due to the forthcoming Olympics and strong concern for its human rights violations from the international community. The government will only even more severely suppress the media and control dissidents. However, the control will also expose more of the true ugly side of the regime and lead to more conflicts, more social issues, and more anti-government activities. Thus, it is expected that there will be more news exposing the news blockade and suppression of human rights by the regime.”