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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Beijing pays DC radio station millions for propaganda

New federal disclosures reveal that the Chinese regime paid a Washington-based radio station nearly $4.4 million to spread propaganda in American homes.

CGTN, the global arm of China’s state broadcaster CCTV, has paid $4.35 million to WCRW, a daytime radio station covering Washington, Virginia and Maryland, to broadcast its content for 12 hours every day since July 2019.

Little do listeners know that Beijing controls what is broadcast. An agreement—signed last July—and disclosed in a filing with the Justice Department last week—prohibits the radio station from altering or shortening CGTN’s program content, or from inserting advertisements without the express permission of the Chinese partner. The contract was between the WCRW and the International Communications Planning Bureau, a body overseeing the Chinese regime’s propaganda department.

As part of the deal, the bureau receives quarterly performance data from the radio network’s owner, Virginia-based Potomac Radio Group, according to the filing, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. Such reports included audience feedback and “assessments from international organizations”, which were not specified in the contract. The Bureau may also appoint a third party to monitor and assess the broadcast effects on a periodic basis.

WCRW did not respond to media inquiries from The Epoch Times as of press time.

WCRW’s website says it has broadcast from Washington to China Radio International, another major state-run Chinese international radio broadcaster, since 1992.

Potomac Media’s registration as a foreign agent comes as Washington becomes increasingly wary of Chinese propaganda activities in the US.

Other free dailies are in a China Daily newspaper box in New York on January 20, 2021. (Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

China Daily, an English-language Chinese state-owned newspaper, paid millions in 2021 to major Western outlets, such as the Foreign Policy and Financial Times, and publishing agencies to disseminate its content. The Chinese consulate recently contracted to hire dozens of social media influencers through an intermediary company in New Jersey, as part of a marketing blitz through March to promote Beijing’s upcoming Winter Olympic Games. Did.

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CGTN has faced several setbacks in recent years in many countries.

British authorities revoked television outlets’ broadcast licenses in the UK in February, saying the license was held by an entity that has no editorial control over the programs they show. The British broadcast regulator later awarded CGTN two fines totaling $273,000 for the two shows, which included forced confessions.

Yug Times Photos
Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai of China during their women’s doubles first round match against Russia’s Veronika Kudermatova and Alison Riske of the United States on the fourth day of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The Chinese broadcaster has sparked controversy recently by releasing an email attributed to Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, whose security was questioned because he made a sexual assault claim against a former high-ranking Chinese official.

In an email released by CGTN on Twitter, Peng reportedly repeated the allegations, claiming: “I’m resting at home right now and everything is fine,” although several observers pointed to the typing cursor in the email screenshot. Its authenticity has been questioned.

At the time, Peng had disappeared from public view following the allegations, raising international concern for her safety. In response, CGTN and other Chinese state-run media released videos and statements saying the tennis star was doing well, only to fuel even more concern.

Peng has made public appearances since then, and went back on his claims in a December 19 interview with a pro-Beijing Singaporean media, but concerns about his safety have not subsided.

eva fu

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Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times, focusing on US-China relations, religious freedom and human rights.


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