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British lawmaker Lord Alton urges BBC to review ads for China
London: British lawmaker Lord David Alton has urged the broadcaster to rethink its commercial decision, after an investigation by Deadline revealed that BBC StoryWorks is producing ads for at least 18 Chinese clients, including nine state-affiliated bodies.
Alton wrote to Tim Davie, the Director-General of the BBC, demanding that he review the activity of the commercial unit BBC StoryWorks. StoryWorks produced a glossy ad campaign for China Global Television Network after it was banned from broadcasting in the UK. Xinhua, the state media news agency, and Huawei, the controversial tech giant, were among StoryWorks' other clients, reported Deadline.
In a letter to Davie, Lord Alton said, "I write to request that you review this arrangement. It is difficult to see how it can be legitimate to provide revenue to a state credibly accused of genocide and crimes against humanity (let alone the imprisonment of journalists and pro-democracy advocates)."
Meanwhile, the BBC defended StoryWorks' relationship with the Chinese propaganda machine, saying StoryWorks was "entirely separate" from its newsgathering operations and that contracts with state media do not stop journalists from reporting on the country "without fear or favour."
Lord Alton told Deadline: "It's simply not realistic to believe that commercial relationships with the Chinese Communist Party have no bearing on behaviour. His bread I eat, his song I sing. The BBC say that contracts with Chinese state media do not stop journalists from reporting on the country 'without fear or favour.' Really? This either represents a worrying naivety or a sleight of hand."
Notably, Lord Alton was among a group of nine UK lawmakers banned from entering China last year after criticising Xi Jinping's regime.
The crossbench peer has shared platforms with Uyghurs and helped give voice to dissidents and activists who he said had been "intimidated and bullied" by the Chinese government. He also monitored Hong Kong's last free elections, researching the plight of pre-democracy leaders.
Lord Alton sits on the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international group of lawmakers who focus on relations with the Communist superpower.
Moreover, a cash-for-propaganda deal between the BBC and Chinese tech giant Huawei was revealed by the UK-based publication The Spectator. Steerpike, The Spectator's gossip columnist in an article said that amid budget cuts and the licence fee future looking uncertain, the BBC developed some questionable new corporate partnerships. One of them is with Huawei, the Chinese tech giant which was sanctioned by the US in 2019 and barred from the UK's 5G network in 2020 over security concerns, said Steerpike.
BBC recently ran into controversy in India over its two-part documentary 'India: The Modi Question' on the role of then Chief Minister of Gujarat and now Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in the 2002 Godhra riots.
The Indian government has criticised the BBC documentary. Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said it lacked objectivity and was "propaganda". (ANI)