China blocks BBC transmission

China said on Friday it had removed the BBC World television news channel from its airwaves for "infringing" broadcast rules, a move the corporation said was linked to a report on the banned Falungong spiritual movement.

BBC announced from London that Chinese authorities switched off the channel's encrypted signal through the Sinosat 1 satellite earlier this week, Agence France Presse reported.

The contentious story reportedly aired Sunday and was prepared by the BBC's Hong Kong office. It focused on the fifth anniversary of the return of the former British colony to Chinese rule. The story included information about the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which Chinese officials call an evil cult that is a threat to order and stability. 

"The transmission of BBC World has been suspended by the Chinese authorities since Monday following an item on the Falungong that appeared on the station," a BBC World spokesperson said.

AFP quoted a spokesperson for the China International Television Corporation, the state-run body responsible for the import and export of programmes to the country, as confirming the signal had been switched off. "Yes, it's true, the reason is that some programmes of the BBC infringed rules on the transmission of foreign programmes in China," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

BBC World, which is only available at upmarket hotels and a small number of foreigners' residence compounds in China, could still be viewed in Asia via PanAmSat 2, 8 and 10, the BBC spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The corporation is reportedly in discussions with Chinese authorities in a bid to clear up the problem. 

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