CCTV need be tasked with following existing rules for broadcasting

On Friday, November 23, 2018, Safeguard Defenders organized a press conference in London for a group of 45 invited media, diplomatic and NGO representatives, outlining a complaint filed against China Central Television (CCTV) and its international arm China Global Television (CGTN) with the United Kingdom’s broadcast regulator.

The press conference was hosted by Safeguard Defenders’ Peter Dahlin, and British citizen, former Reuters journalist Peter Humphrey. Alongside presentation of the official complaint, filed with Ofcom at 11:25 that morning, it also constituted the launch event for Safeguard Defenders new book, edited by Peter Dahlin.


Peter Dahlin explains the reality of ‘RSDL’ – residential surveillance at a designated location – and Safeguard Defenders prior book on the subject, “The People’s Republic of the Disappeared”.

The complaint is based on the fact that CCTV collaborated with Chinese police in extracting, recording, producing, and later airing, two confessions by Peter Humphrey, made long before his trial, and against his stated objections. By broadcasting both TV “confessions”, CCTV not only collaborated in denying Mr. Humphrey the right to a fair trial, but by broadcasting it on its international English language channel, including in the UK, it violated the UK’s Broadcasting Code. The same behavior by a state broadcaster has earlier been penalized, in accordance with the Broadcasting code, leading to the revocation of the license for that state broadcaster, Press TV, to broadcast, in the UK.


The complaint, exhaustive in nature, highlights how some twenty aspects of the Broadcasting code has been violated in broadcasting these “confessions”, and the complaint comes as CCTV/CGTN is about to open a major production center in London. The new center is the centerpiece in the European dimension in Xi Jinping’s signature “going out” policy, and is one of several developments, working in tandem, in expanding Chinese party/state influence in Europe. Should the complaint place CCTV/CGTN under review, it will have no choice but to cease broadcasting such “confessions”, or risk losing athe bility to expand its European operations for possibly years to come. Local media in Chiswick Park, the upscale area of London where the new CGTN center is to open, have reported that CIC – China Investment Corporation – paid 780 million pound for purchasing the Chiswick office Park complex.


Mr. Humphrey describes the reality that viewers never got to see.




Mr. Dahlin presents ‘Trial By Media” which exposes the extent of CCTV collaboration, and the systematic nature of these “forced TV confessions”


Alongside presentation of the complaint, and on the role of Ofcom in the UK, in supervising and acting as guarantor that the Broadcasting code in enforced in the UK, the press conference also included Peter Dahlin presenting the new book “Trial By Media”, now available worldwide on Amazon as both paperback and in kindle edition. The book explores the role of CCTV and its journalists in not merely broadcasting, but helping extract, record and produce these “forced TV confessions” systematically since the rise of Xi Jinping, and presents eight victims’ testimonies, written as first person accounts. The book furthermore analyses the “going out” policy of Xi Jinping as it relates to Chinese state media, the massive reorganization of its media empire announced at the national congress in March 2018, and other concurrent developments working in tandem – all with the aim of expanding Chinese influencing operations. It notes, as has been noted in Australia before, how ‘partnerships’ are being used in a massively increased scale the last few years to co-opt or neutralize independent Chinese language media around Europe, and how this, alongside massive investment plans for CCTV’s global operations, is being guided by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.


Drugged and placed inside a metal cage, cuffed to a chair, inside a detention center room, the police held the script in front of Mr. Humphrey. CCTV journalists filmed as he slurred his answers.


The book is a wakeup call both to the true nature of CCTV as a state/party broadcaster, but also its rapidly expanding reach across the world, including in Europe.



The press conference was completed with a presentation by Peter Dahlin of how Ofcom stands a chance to affect positive change in the behavior of China’s state broadcaster, and that the timing for such, before several soon to be taken steps, in expanding its reach, will maximize its possible result. By placing CCTV under greater scrutiny, a political decision will be forced upon the Chinese Communist Party as to whether CCTV shall continue to collaborate in carrying out gross human rights violations in making and airing such confessions internationally, or if it should change, for the sake of not derailing a very costly, very important, expansion plan directed by Xi Jinping himself.


First response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang

We call upon Ofcom to perform its regulatory role in a fair manner, where China’s state broadcaster must be held to the same standards as Iranian media, or for that matter, any and all media that seeks to operate in the UK. Ofcom, a non-political body, has been given the opportunity to affect positive change merely in applying its Broadcasting rules without undue political considerations.


Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Dahlin hand over the complaint to Ofcom on Friday morning.

Chinese broadcasters and media, even those that are a direct arm of the CCP, must be allowed to partake in the broader conversation, in the UK and beyond, and censorship cannot, nor should never, be fought with censorship. Chinese media should be encouraged to fight for viewers and readers, and be allowed to share its perspective on world developments, but such can only be offered with fair, and consistent, application of rules. The UK’s role in the world as a country governed by the rule of law must be protected, and for that, the rules for broadcasters must be applied equally to all. This action by Ofcom will very likely decide whether there will be future British victims of this behavior in China.

Press Conference, London, on CCTV and their international operations

On November 23, a press conference will be held in London, the United Kingdom, co-hosted by Peter Humphrey and Peter Dahlin, related to operations by China’s state media broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), and its international arm China Global Television (CGTN).

To avoid disturbances, the event is closed, and attendance is by RSVP only.  A small number of seats remain for interested parties. Contact Info -at- safeguarddefenders -dot- com for more information.


The press conference will focus on CCTV’s operations in the UK, and its multiple breaches of the UK Broadcasting code, especially in the broadcast of the two forced TV confessions by the British citizen and former journalist Peter Humphrey. Broadcast of such a “confession” in the UK by Iranian state media previously led to the broadcaster, Press TV, being stripped of its broadcasting license in the United Kingdom.

Peter Dahlin, director of Safeguard Defenders, the parent organization of, will likewise present information on the systematic nature of these forced TV confessions, and reveal further information on the active collaboration with police by CCTV and individual journalists. The press conference coincides with the release by Safeguard Defenders of a new book, Trial By Media: China’s new show trials, and the global expansion of Chinese media, focused on Forced TV Confessions, but also the role played by CCTV and state/party media in China’s mounting influencing operations globally.




CCTV complaint to OFCOM

Below is the official, redacted, version of the full complaint filed against CCTV for its operations in the United Kingdom, with the Office of Communications (Ofcom) on November 23, 2018.


Ofcom is tasked by law to regulate media broadcasters in the United Kingdom, and to implement the Broadcasting code. CCTV and CGTN both holds broadcast licenses in the UK. The broadcast of a forced TV confession by Iranian State TV broadcaster in the UK led to the TV broadcaster being investigated and found guilty, and subsequently, had their license to broadcast in the UK revoked.

Download complaint as PDF here: OfCom Fairness and Privacy Complaint 2018-11-23 Redacted


Office of Communications (Ofcom)


Fairness and Privacy complaint

Complaint against

China Central Television (CCTV) /

China Global Television Network (CGTN)




This complaint contains 8 chapters.



Complaint filed by the victim, UK citizen Peter Humphrey, with support from NGO Safeguard Defenders.


Filed at Ofcom office. Fairness and Privacy Complaints Content Standards, Licensing and Enforcement, Riverside House 2a, Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA.





“They drugged me, locked me to a tiger chair, and placed me and the chair inside a small metal cage. China Central Television (CCTV) journalists then aimed their cameras at me and recorded me reading out the answers already prepared for me by the police. No questions were asked.”British citizen and former journalist Peter Humphrey on his forced TV confession in China.


On August 27, 2013, UK citizen, China resident, and former Reuters journalist Peter Humphrey was seen on China’s state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) “admitting” to crimes he and his wife had been charged with, but not convicted of. This “confession” on TV happened long before his actual trial. Peter Humphrey had refused to make such a confession, but was in return maltreated and even denied cancer care, making him fear for his life. CCTV journalists cooperated with police to extract, record, make post-production and then broadcast his confession. CCTV then released it worldwide through its international arm, China Global Television (CGTN), including on their English-language channel, also aired in the UK. Later on, a second confession was forced out of him. On both occasions, his American wife was similarly filmed, although only broadcast on the second instance.


A Canadian-Iranian journalist suffered the same fate a few years earlier in Iran, when Iran’s state media collaborated with police to record and then broadcast his “confession” on their Press TV in the United Kingdom. The victim, Maziar Bahari, filed a complaint to Ofcom, who in its investigation found Press TV responsible for committing gross violations of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, and subsequently revoked their license. In China, this use of forced TV confessions, always before trial, has become systematic since the reign of Xi Jinping began in late 2012; and torture, maltreatment and even forced drugging are common components in forcing victims to confess, as numerous testimonies from victims have shown.



Chapter 1 Background


I, Peter William Humphrey, a citizen of the United Kingdom, here submit a complaint to Ofcom and request Ofcom to restrict the operations of China Central Television (CCTV) and its international arm China Global Television (CGTN), on account of their multiple violations of the Broadcasting code, and having committed gross human rights violations, in broadcasting the forced TV confession of me in the United Kingdom. This matter is in the public interest, and, upon submission, this complaint will be released to the public and to relevant organisations.


CCTV/CGTN is the broadcast arm of the Chinese state and, specifically, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). As such, CCTV/CGTN is not a broadcaster in the commonly held sense, but a television broadcast arm of the CCP’s propaganda department.


With this complaint I call on Ofcom to perform its duty to curb the activities of CCTV/CGTN in the United Kingdom, as it operates in violation of the Broadcasting code, and that it shall be denied the license to broadcast in the United Kingdom as a result of the multiple, severe, violations of the Ofcom rules, and that such denial shall be in place until it can be shown CCTV/CGTN can and will operate according to the established rules.


CCTV/CGTN has colluded with the Chinese police, known as the Public Security Bureau (PSB), which is controlled by the Chinese state and CCP, in forcing me and my wife Yingzeng Yu (Ying) to be paraded on CCTV and CGTN broadcasts as prisoners, and to make it appear, falsely, that we were making confessions to crimes we had not been convicted of. These were in reality forced and falsified “confessions” for the purpose of prejudicing public opinion and prejudicing trial proceedings before we had faced any indictment, prosecution or fair and open trial as required by both China’s law and constitution.


The crimes committed against me and my wife have also been committed in vast numbers of similar cases committed by the PSB and CCTV/CGTN, namely against hundreds of individuals in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since the time of my own forced TV confession, and in some instances committed against individuals who have been kidnapped outside the PRC and brought into China and paraded on TV to make such forced and falsified televised confessions, similarly aired on CCTV. There have also been many non-Chinese victims of this practice, including other Europeans and Americans.


It has been widely reported that in December 2018 CCTV/CGTN will open a massive European base in the Chiswick district of London where it will conduct its broadcasting towards UK audiences as well as elsewhere in the English-speaking world and in Europe. This is the production center for its new European bureau, its largest ever foreign bureau, with plans to base more than 300 staff there.


The forced parading of me and my wife on CCTV/CGTN broadcasts has been widely publicised at the time by international media including mainstream UK media.


CCTV/CGTN reporters and camera crew twice assisted the Shanghai police in conducting these scripted and staged bogus confession “interviews”.


In the first instance (filmed on Monday August 26, 2013), CCTV was represented by one male cameraman and one female interviewer who withheld their names. In the first instance, I was drugged in my cell with a sedative half an hour beforehand, I was led out in handcuffs, and in an orange prison uniform, I was led into an interrogation cell, placed into a steel cage, and locked into an iron chair commonly referred to in China as a “tiger chair”, with a locking bar across my lap. I was surrounded by a dozen or so people wielding still- and TV cameras who pointed their lenses through the cage bars, and was filmed in this condition without my consent and against my will. I had only consented to meeting two or three print journalists, and had written a note to that effect, and had explicitly written “no cameras”. But I was a prisoner in a Chinese jail and was in no position to resist after two months in captivity in appalling conditions, poor health and immense duress tantamount to torture. The interviewer was not any of the journalists present but was instead the police’s Inspector Ding Zhidong, the very same officer of the police who had been one of two lead interrogators against me and my wife for the preceding months in captivity, with me still suffering immense duress.


In the second instance (filmed on Saturday July 12, 2014) I was not handcuffed or caged but was a captive, and was also forced to appear before journalists against my will by the police. In both instances, CCTV was present. In the second instance CCTV’s female interviewer led the questioning based on a police script in a very hostile manner.


Both fake interviews procured under conditions tantamount to torture were broadcast and rebroadcast, by both CCTV and its international arm CGTN, upon orders from the Chinese state and without my consent. Both interviews, heavily edited, cut and pasted, were unrecognisable to me when I was able to view them, only after my release one year later. In some versions of the broadcast my facial image was scrambled. In others it was not. Still photos from the filming session were also published in print and online media without my consent and fully showing my facial features alongside printed articles containing false information prepared by the police.


Neither of these instances qualify as journalism or true media activity. CCTV was working in active collusion with the police and the Chinese state.


Foreign Office records show that a senior UK consular officer met the head of the Shanghai police a few days after the first CCTV broadcast and told the Chinese side that if such an incident happened in the UK then the so-called case against me and my wife would have been thrown out for violating legal process.


CCTV/CGTN’s actions resulted in the false prejudicing of Chinese and world public opinion against me and my wife, the prejudicing of a sham trial against us held on August 8, 2014 at which we had no opportunity to orchestrate a proper defence, and caused lasting reputational damage and financial damage to the Humphrey family. The latter includes false and injurious records of the affair by due diligence databases that are used by all leading banks as an obligatory know-your-customer compliance check. These database companies have red-flagged the Humphreys alongside terrorists, money-launderers and traffickers as a result of CCTV/CGTN’s actions in collusion with the police.


In 2018, there has been a growing focus on these legal- and human rights violations after a human rights organization named Safeguard Defenders published a series of materials on the topic, first being the phenomenon of extrajudicial disappearance and detention in China, the second being the practice of forced, falsified televised confessions as represented in the book “Scripted and Staged”, to which I refer you.

Artist rendering of Peter Humphrey’s first recording

Chapter 2 On China Central Television in UK

Due to the many names and abbreviations, and many changes, a clarification is justified. China Central Television (CCTV) is the national TV broadcaster in China. Up until December 31, 2016, the English language CCTV channel for international broadcasts were first called CCTV-9, and later CCTV News. At this date, the English channel was renamed China Global Television Network (CGTN). CCTV/CTGN broadcasts in all six United Nations languages.


During the national congress in China in March 2018, it was announced that CCTV’s international channels, alongside China Radio International and China National Radio, will be merged, and will be called Voice of China. This change has not yet happened. It was also announced that control of the CGTN/Voice of China will be reorganised, and placed directly under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), rather than the State. The reorganisation is set forth in the Program for the Deepening Reform of Party and Government Organs (深化党和国家机构改革方案), which sets forth that it shall (article 36)  “guide public opinion as defined by the Chinese Communist Party”, and, (article 35) “strengthen the Party’s centralised and unified leadership of news and public opinion work, and strengthen the management of important propaganda positions”.


CGTN has since before established an Africa division, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and an Americas division, based in Washington DC, USA. The new London-based production center will have more staff than both these headquarters put together, and it is expected that the formation of a European division will come.


In the United Kingdom, CCTV/CGTN holds two licenses.

  • CCTV (DTAS100508BA/15)

  • CGTN (TLCS000575BA/2)


On September 18, 2018, it became known that the United States Department of Justice had ordered CGTN, and China’s state-controlled newswire service, Xinhua, to register under its Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), deeming them, much like RT (Russia Today) to be foreign agents operating in the United States, and  forcing their registration as such, which will require them to report on their activities, financing and relationship to their principal (the Chinese State/CCP) to the Department of Justice.


Both TV confessions were broadcast by CCTV, in China, and on CGTN, internationally.  In the UK CGTN can be watched through terrestrial broadcasts (Freeview Channel 226), Satellite broadcasts (Freesat Channel 211 and Sky Channel 509) and through streaming.

These broadcasts are then often picked up and rebroadcast by UK broadcasters.


Note: Some videos appears with the logo CNTV (China Network Television), which is an Internet TV broadcaster that compiles and offers news clips from various CCTV/CGTN channels.


Chapter 3 Justification for, and precedent of, exception to time-limit


In 2010 a complaint to Ofcom was made by Canadian citizen Maziar Bahari against the Iranian Broadcaster Press TV in the United Kingdom, for “for filming and airing an interview with him under duress”. Due to the seriousness of the complaint, the 20 day time limitation, in accordance with article 1.13 of the Procedures for the consideration and adjudication of Fairness and Privacy complaints, was waived under article 1.14.


In the end Press TV’s license was revoked, although the penalty was later changed to a fine of 100,000 Pounds. Ofcom stated that Press TV failed to get Maziar Bahari’s consent and this “contributed to the overall unfairness to Mr Bahari in the item broadcast“, and added that filming and broadcasting the interview without consent “while he was in a sensitive situation and vulnerable state was an unwarranted infringement of Mr Bahari’s privacy“. Ofcom’s decision was published on May 23, 2011[1].


The same exception, under article 1.14 is now being sought, as a UK citizen was forced into the very same situation, this time in China, and as has been shown by research, it is part of a common pattern of abuse that has also affected other EU citizens.


The two (separate) broadcasts were aired by CCTV, China Central Television, on 2013-08-27 and 2014-07-14. In the UK, CCTV broadcast under the name its international English language arm, now called CGTN – China Global Television Network. The second broadcast also included a similar involuntary filming session by CCTV and Chinese police of the UK victim’s wife (an American citizen).


Reason for delayed filing


When the broadcasts were made and aired, Peter Humphrey had no possibility to seek redress or to file any complaint, as he was held “virtually incommunicado” and “prevented from communication with the world outside my walls”. The victim could not make a complaint to Ofcom for the two years that he was kept in prison in China.


Additionally, due to long-term denial of medical care for cancer, upon Peter Humphrey’s release from prison and subsequent deportation in June 2015, he had to undergo long-term cancer investigation and treatment. Active treatment lasted until mid-2017, with continued investigation ongoing. Starting shortly before this date, Mr. Humphrey started treatment for severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which lasted for one additional year until mid-2018, with additional physical treatments for damaged joints and nerves still ongoing. The first two years of imprisonment, and the physical weakness from cancer treatment following that, and treatment against mental illness incurred as a direct result of both his detention, torture (under the definition of the Convention Against Torture) and him being forced into making these broadcasts, are the combined reasons why the filing of the complaint is carried out now, and not before.


Besides depriving Peter Humphrey of the right to a fair trial, and the police’s insistence on using a televised confession and denying him medical care for a potential life-threatening medical condition, the broadcasts themselves have had multiple, severe, negative consequences for Peter Humphrey. The re-broadcast and intense media focus by international media, in the UK and internationally, have severely damaged his reputation. It has also led to him being deprived of access to personal and business banking, and led to significant negative consequences related to his professional life, work and livelihood.


Chapter 4 The broadcasts


All five broadcasts mentioned below are attached as Appendixes V1-V5, on the USB that is provided alongside this complaint.


First “confession” video

First broadcast 07:38 (GMT+8), 2013-08-27, on CCTV 13 morning news show CCTV13 (朝闻天下 Zhao Wen Tian Xia)

Recording attached as appendix V1.


Recording attached as appendix V2.


Second “confession” video

First broadcast 07:39 (GMT+8), 2014-07-14, on CCTV 13 morning news show CCTV13 (朝闻天下 Zhao Wen Tian Xia)

Recording attached as appendix V3.


  •   The English language version of the second confession, aired by CCTV International (the name for the English channel before re-branding to CGTN), on the same date, is attached as appendix V4.



Chapter 5 Violations of the Broadcasting Code


Ofcom has a duty under section 319 of the Communications Act 2003 to set standards for the content of programmes in television and radio services. The standards objectives are set out in section 319(2) of the Act. They include that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material (section 319(2)(f)). Ofcom’s regulatory work and the specifics of what to protect citizens against is outlined in the Broadcasting Code[2].


The two broadcasts breach numerous paragraphs of the Broadcasting code, under sections 3, 5, 7 and 8.


Section 3: Crime, disorder, hatred and abuse.


Article 3.3 Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television and radio services.


The broadcasts contain material where the defendant has been forced, through withholding of medical treatment and forced drugging, to incriminate himself before his trial. His placement inside a small metal cage, partly visible in the broadcast, and his drugged appearance, should likewise be considered a violation of this article.


Section 5: Impartiality and accuracy. 


Article 5.1: That News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.


The victim had no chance to voice his own version of allegations against him, and was forced and coerced into incriminating himself. CCTV post-production includes various allegations against the victim stated as facts, despite no trial having taken place at the time of broadcast. Those “facts” were also not available for Mr. Humphrey to hear, see or refute, but added in post-production.


Article 5.2: Significant mistakes in news should normally be acknowledged and corrected on air quickly. Corrections should be appropriately scheduled.


Despite the victim having retracted his statements, and testified to the treatment forcing him to make such a recording against his will, CCTV has not issued any retraction, clarification or any other statement regarding its broadcast.


Article 5.8: Any personal interest of a reporter or presenter, which would call into question the due impartiality of the programme, must be made clear to the audience.


The journalists from CCTV did not ask the questions, despite it being presented on TV as an interaction between Peter Humphrey and media. Instead, police in the first instance asked the questions directly and forced the victim to read answers and statements prepared for him by the police, while media simply recorded it. In the second instance, a CCTV reporter asked questions based on a police script.  In both instances, CCTV actively collaborated with the police in extracting and producing and broadcasting the confession, the true nature of which was not presented to the viewer.


Section 7: Fairness


Article 7.1: Broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes.


The broadcast presented the confession as willing, and not coerced or otherwise forced. The broadcast presented the victim willingly incriminating himself. Treatment of victim by the participating media and its broadcast is both unjust and unfair.


Article 7.2: Broadcasters and programme makers should normally be fair in their dealings with potential contributors to programmes unless, exceptionally, it is justified to do otherwise.


The victim was under severe distress and duress, and had even been drugged. The victim, despite this said no, that he would not agree to any video recording with TV media, but was then forced to do so regardless and while on a drug. No consent was possible in the circumstance.


Article 7.3: Where a person is invited to make a contribution to a programme (except when the subject matter is trivial or their participation minor) they should normally, at an appropriate stage:

  • be told the nature and purpose of the programme, what the programme is about and be given a clear explanation of why they were asked to contribute and when (if known) and where it is likely to be first broadcast;
  • be told what kind of contribution they are expected to make, for example live, pre-recorded, interview, discussion, edited, unedited, etc.;
  • be informed about the areas of questioning and, wherever possible, the nature of other likely contributions;
  • be made aware of any significant changes to the programme as it develops which might reasonably affect their original consent to participate, and which might cause material unfairness;
  • be told the nature of their contractual rights and obligations and those of the programme maker and broadcaster in relation to their contribution; and
  • be given clear information, if offered an opportunity to preview the programme, about whether they will be able to effect any changes to it.


See answer to article 7.2, all of which applies.


Article 7.6: When a programme is edited, contributions should be represented fairly.


Editing of these CCTV broadcasts was deceptive to viewer. Allegations were presented as facts, and additional alleged facts were added in post-production. Also, see answers to articles 5.8 and 7.1


Article 7.6: When a programme is edited, contributions should be represented fairly.


CCTV has edited the broadcast heavily, and in a grossly unfair manner, and added accusations presented as facts in post-production.


Article 7.9: Before broadcasting a factual programme, including programmes examining past events, broadcasters should take reasonable care to satisfy themselves that:

  • material facts have not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation;


No such undertaking has been made by CCTV. Material presented is unfair, deceptive and does not allow victim to respond. The actual situation during which the “interview” was recorded should alert anyone, including any journalist, of the true situation in which it was recorded. (See attached artwork showing the scene of the recording.)


Article 7.11: If a programme alleges wrongdoing or incompetence or makes other significant allegations, those concerned should normally be given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond.


No such opportunity has been provided, neither at the time of the recording of the broadcast, nor after its broadcast. Also see answer to article 7.9.


Section 8: privacy


Article 8.6: If the broadcast of a programme would infringe the privacy of a person or organisation, consent should be obtained before the relevant material is broadcast, unless the infringement of privacy is warranted.


No such consent could be given, due to the extreme duress. Victim was chained to a metal stool, inside a small cage, inside a detention cell, and was drugged prior to recording. Victim had also said no to making such a recording, and was on top of that being denied medical care for a potentially lethal illness. His wife was also detained, accused of the same crime.


Article 8.16: Broadcasters should not take or broadcast footage or audio of people caught up in emergencies, victims of accidents or those suffering a personal tragedy, even in a public place, where that results in an infringement of privacy, unless it is warranted or the people concerned have given consent.


See answer to article 8.6.


Article 8.17: People in a state of distress should not be put under pressure to take part in a programme or provide interviews, unless it is warranted.


See answer to article 8.6.


Chapter 6 Obligation of Ofcom under the Human Rights Act


Ofcom, as a public authority, is charged, under the Human Rights Act (1988) paragraph 6 (1) to act in a way compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (“It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.”) It is charged under the same paragraph, subsection 6 (b) to, within its mandate, take remedial action for what is under its purview.


CCTV is either directly responsible, or complicit in, several violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).


  • CCTV is directly responsible for depriving Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng of the right to a fair trial, a right guaranteed under paragraph 6.


  • CCTV is also directly responsible for violation of article 8, which in line with the Broadcasting code, provides protections against unlawful violations of privacy.


  • In addition, CCTV is complicit, but not directly responsible, for violation of paragraph 3, which protects against all forms of torture. CCTV has been complicit in the police’s torture of Peter Humphrey, in helping extract, record, provide post-production and broadcast of his “testimony”, despite knowing full well of his maltreatment (see artist rendering attached of Mr. Humphrey’s situation during the first recorded confession, leaving little doubt for any attendees as to the situation he was in when making the recording).


Chapter 7 CCTV and Forced TV Confessions


Safeguard Defenders, the human rights organization, has released the fullest, most exhaustive, report on the use of forced TV confessions in China, Scripted and Staged.


Hardcopy and digital copy of the report is provided along with this complaint.


The research conducted for that report, and the many victim testimonials secured, have shown a systematic nature in how CCTV is used to broadcast Forced TV Confessions before trial. A database has been published by the same organization on its use since Xi Jinping became leader of China 2012/2013, available on


CCTV plays two different roles. In one, more common for lower profile victims, CCTV is limited to providing post-production and broadcasting of TV recordings, produced by police. Most often victims have been kept incommunicado.


In another role, including the one in the case of Peter Humphrey, CCTV and its journalists also partake in the extracting of the confession, the recording of it, alongside post-production and broadcasting. In many instances the victims are kept in RSDL – residential surveillance at a designated location – where one is kept, for up to 6 months, without access to lawyer, held incommunicado, in solitary confinement, and where neither family nor public is told where the victim is. According to international law RSDL as described above constitutes an Enforced Disappearance. Of note is that in all known cases of RSDL police have also refused the prosecutor’s office to visit to check against torture and other maltreatment, claiming such visits could hinder the investigation. Yet, CCTV has been given access to assist with extraction and recording of such forced TV confessions.


In some testimonies, the journalists are also noted as actively planning and directing the extraction and recording together with the police (or in some cases, State Security).


Severe physical torture, psychological torture, and threats against, and attacks on, siblings, relatives and loved ones is common before the forced TV confession is “agreed” upon. Some people are drugged before the recording, by force or by trickery, including Peter Humphrey.


For details on how CCTV helps extract, record, edit and produce the forced TV confessions, and how it violates both Chinese law, UK law and International law, see the report Scripted and Staged.


The issue is further explored in the book Trial By Media, which is released at the same date as the filing of this complaint. In the book, Peter Humphrey’s full testimony is included, alongside numerous other victims, both Chinese and foreigners.


A hardcopy of the book is provided along with this complaint.


Chapter 8 Expert advice and testimony


For further information, below is a select list of renowned experts on Chinese law, International law, and CCTV and Chinese media, all of whom have agreed to provide expert testimony to Ofcom if requested.

Jerome Cohen, Professor, New York University School of Law, one of the world’s leading China law scholars

Perry Link, Professor, University of California, a leading China scholar

Eva Pils, Professor of Law, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London

Peter Dahlin, Chinese legal rights activist, Director of Safeguard Defenders, and likewise a victim of China’s use of Forced TV Confessions

Magnus Fiskesjö, Professor of Anthropology, University of Cornell, former Cultural Attaché at the Swedish Embassy, Beijing

Ira Belkin, Professor, Specialist in Criminal Justice in China, New York University School of Law

Owen Nee, US Attorney and China Law Specialist, Managing Partner at In Re Nee, LLC

Dinah Gardner, former journalist, Scholar of Forced TV Confessions

Michael Caster, legal rights activist, editor of “The People’s Republic of the Disappeared”, member of Safeguard Defenders

Nicolas Groffman, Lawyer, Partner, Head of International, China specialist, Harrison, Clark Rickerbys Ltd



Additional expert testimony and contacts can be provided upon request.





  • Ofcom form Of333 (Fairness and Privacy Complaint Form).


  • Hard copy of Scripted and Staged – Behind the scenes of China’s forced TV confessions.




  • Hard copy of Trial By media, the new book on CCTV and Forced TV Confessions, edited by Peter Dahlin.


  • Hard copy and digital copy of artist rendering of situation during Peter Humphrey’s first confession recording.


  • USB with TV broadcast collection, V1-V5, and copies of all other appendixes and filings.






Content: News

Type of Service: Editorial


Licensee: Arqiva Limited


Contact Details: Anirban Roy

8th Floor, The Met Building

22 Percy Street




Telephone: 0330 303 6816



License Number: DTAS100508BA/15





Type of Service: Editorial


Licensee: Star China Media Limited


Contact Details: Alice Tang

Unit A, 9th Floor,

MG Tower,

133 Hoi Bun Road,



Telephone: +852 3996 3702



License Number: TLCS000575BA/2



Peter Humphrey

Filed at Ofcom office on 2018-11-23


[1] Ofcom decision BSC 68(11)

[2] Ofcom broadcasting code (PDF):

Book release: Trial By Media

On November 23, 2018, Safeguard Defenders will release its next book, Trial By MediaChina’s new show trials, and the global expansion of Chinese media, edited by Peter Dahlin. The release of this book follows the release of an earlier book, the acclaimed The People’s Republic of the Disappeared, edited by Michael Caster, which exposed the realities behind China’s use of secret prisons through RSDL, and the organization’s groundbreaking research report, Scripted and Staged, into China’s use of forced televised confessions.


If Scripted and Staged provided a peek into the reality behind the use of forced TV confessions, Trial By Media goes further, and with brand new testimonies from victims, some speaking out at considerable risk, the active role of Chinese state media is exposed, and their extensive collaboration with police not merely in broadcasting, but in extracting, recording and producing these confessions. CCTV and other state media’s complicity in gross human rights violations – the denial of the right to a fair trial, is explored.


A press conference will be held in London on November 23, to reveal additional steps being taken against CCTV for its continued broadcasting internationally of “forced TV confessions”. Attendance is by invite and RSVP only. Want to know more? Email info -at- safeguarddefenders -dot- com


The book begins, and ends, by looking at the true nature of CCTV, and how it’s different from how we normally think of a state TV broadcaster. In these chapters, the book delves deep into the role that CCTV, and other state/party media, plays both in the use of forced TV confessions, but also as part of Xi Jinping’s “going out” policy.



The book looks at how China is working to expand its influencing operations internationally, and how the rapid expansion of state/party media, of which CCTV is the flagship, is but one of several trends working in tandem. State media’s expansion is put next to how independent Chinese language media, in countries from Australia to the United States and across Europe, is and has been silenced over the past five years, and how both these developments stand side-by-side under the guise of the United Front Work Department. These developments, alongside the 16+1 initiative in Central- and Eastern Europe, the Belt and Road Initiative, and investment into or purchasing of key media, especially in Africa, are all part of the same strategy, one that seeks to sow division in- and between western countries, and to overturn the current global institutional framework, and replace it with one developed and led by China.


Book released on Amazon worldwide November 23, with both paperback and Kindle editions available.


The emotional center of the book consists of eight testimonials – fully developed short stories -which centers on the use of forced TV confessions, but each which expands into and shows several new trends in China since the rise of Xi Jinping.



As many of the victims are either core targets of the 709 crackdown, or in other ways related to them, the testimonials also offer insight into the Chinese state’s thinking about the rights defense movement, an insight we can gain by reading about the back and forth exchanges between victims and their captors.


The testimony of Zhai Yanmin shows the troubled state of China’s criminal judicial process, where, after several forced TV confessions – the same process starts over, but this time, he is forced to sit down with judge, police, and prosecutor. Once there, together they practice his court appearance, his demeanor, everything – except this time, for his show trial, there could be no retakes.


The star in Professor Liu Sixin’s testimony, like in several others, is CCTV’s Dong Qian, shown to play a very active role in both his and others’ forced TV confessions. Lawyer Wang Yu, whose experience with RSDL has been told before in The People’s Republic of the Disappeared, here reveals how her son was used as a pawn against her, how he was made to attack others, and the torture police used against him to make him cooperate, all of it with a clear purpose, forcing Wang Yu to cooperate and “confess” on TV.


Activist Liu Xing, like several others, remembers how he would be drugged, and how he spent a year after his systematic forced drugging to recover from it. Wen Qing, like Zhai, speaks on how his very identity came under attack because of the TV confessions, and the long road back. Peter Dahlin writes about experiencing going through a lie detector test, all the while his girlfriend was kept incommunicado, in solitary confinement, whilst State Security prodded him to record a “confession” video. With Peter Humphrey, a British former journalist, we learn how he, and his American wife Yu Yingzeng, ended up being paraded on TV as collateral damage into a major corruption scandal that had nothing to do with them, but an international pharmaceutical conglomerate.


The book also offers solutions for what regulatory bodies in target countries can do when it comes to CCTV’s existing or planned presence, and that their presence, and therefore their need to adapt to local rules, can be a silver lining, offering a chance to affect positive change in the behavior of Chinese media, and to their culpability in committing gross human rights violations.


Immediately and Unconditionally Release Huang Qi

China: Immediately and Unconditionally Release Huang Qi & Ensure Access to Prompt Medical Care for all Detained Human Rights Defenders

A group of 14 NGO’s call for Huang Qi’s release and access to medical care.

2018-11-05 — Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release citizen journalist and human rights activist Huang Qi, a group of 14 NGOs said on November 5, 2018.


Huang Qi (黄琦), the founder and director of 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, is not receiving adequate medical care in detention and his health has seriously deteriorated, according to his lawyer who visited him on October 23. Huang’s condition is so serious that there is an immediate threat to his life.


The Chinese government must immediately and unconditionally release Huang, who has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and end its policy of denying prompt medical treatment to prisoners of conscience, which is a form of torture. Several human rights defenders and ethnic and religious minorities have died in detention in recent years due to a lack of prompt medical treatment, including Liu Xiaobo, Cao Shunli, Yang Tongyan, and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, intensifying fears that Huang Qi might suffer the same fate without urgent intervention.


Huang suffers from a chronic kidney disease which requires daily medication, hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain), heart disease and other illnesses. Huang told his lawyer during the October meeting that Sichuan authorities had purposely understated the dire state of his health and had tried to cover up his actual condition. In particular, Huang’s blood pressure was actually much higher than previously revealed, with a reading done on October 18 and 19 in the detention facility measuring 221/147 mm Hg, a reading so high that it qualifies as a “hypertensive crisis” (a normal reading should be no higher than 140/90 mm Hg). Huang has also reported to his lawyers different forms of torture and other ill-treatment to which he has been subjected to in the past two years, including extended interrogations, prolonged periods of being forced to stand, and beatings.


Authorities have repeatedly rejected applications for release on medical bail despite Huang’s heath condition continuing to deteriorate. He faces charges of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities” and “leaking state secrets” due to his work with 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, which documents and publishes reports on enforced disappearances, trafficking, human rights violations and complaints against government officials. Huang faces the possibility of life imprisonment. His 85-year-old mother has been campaigning for his release, fearing he may die in prison. Last month two of his associates received suspended prison sentences and were released, but authorities have continued to hold Huang. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion in April 2018 that declared Huang’s detention arbitrary, but the Chinese government continues to ignore the Working Group’s recommendation that Huang be released and compensated.


Lawyers representing Huang Qi have also faced retaliation. One of his lawyers, Sui Muqing, was disbarred in February 2018 for defending human rights defenders, such as Huang. Huang’s current lawyer, Liu Zhengqing, received a notice in October that he is under investigation for giving Huang cigarettes during a meeting in July. Liu faces suspension of his law license or a large fine.


Tomorrow, during China’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review, UN Member States should raise the continued pervasive use of torture and other ill-treatment in China, including tactics like denying medical care for human rights defenders, and make clear calls on the Chinese government to end such practices.




Mianyang City police in Sichuan Province initially detained Huang Qi on November 28, 2016 and arrested him the following month on charges of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities.” A trial scheduled for June 20, 2018 was suspended without any official reason provided. In October 2018 police added an additional charge of “leaking state secrets.” He is currently being held at Mianyang City Detention Center.


Huang Qi established China’s first-known human rights monitoring website in 1998, disseminating reports about Chinese individuals who had been trafficked and disappeared. Huang has served two prison sentences, totalling eight years, in reprisal for his human rights work, and was often tortured and otherwise to ill-treated. Born in 1963, Huang Qi graduated from Sichuan University and was formerly a businessman. His work in citizen journalism has received international awards, including two from Reporters Without Borders, which awarded 64 Tianwang the Press Freedom Prize in 2016, and honored Huang in 2004 with the Cyber-Freedom Prize.


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