China to CBC: Bag a 'Gong'


TORONTO -- The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday pulled a documentary that probes Falun Gong persecution in China after receiving protests from Chinese diplomats.

On Thursday, CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said that "Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong," a one-hour documentary by Canadian filmmaker Peter Rowe, will air at a later date "to ensure we're comfortable from a journalistic point-of-view."

The CBC replaced the documentary just hours before its 10 p.m. air date Tuesday night on CBC Newsworld with a rerun of a documentary on Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.

Keay did not say whether the documentary will be re-edited.

"We don't want to censor it. It's a point-of-view doc. But we're of the view that, if there was something in there that was not journalistically supportable, it would have to be changed," he said.

The CBC, which has the Canadian broadcast rights to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, earlier this week received phone calls from Chinese embassy and consulate officials in Ottawa and Toronto who voiced concerns.

Keay said he received one call from a Chinese envoy that referred to himself as a "cultural consultant" with the Ottawa embassy.

"He said they had noticed in a local Chinese language newspaper that the CBC supported the Falun Gong by running a pro-Falun Gong documentary," he recalled.

Keay added that a separate phone call from the Chinese consulate in Toronto was made to CBC Newsworld on Tuesday.

The CBC spokesman said both Chinese officials were thanked for sharing their concerns, which would be passed on to the public broadcaster's documentary unit.

Keay denies that the CBC pulled the documentary to spare itself the wrath of Chinese officials in Beijing, and dismissed speculation that embassy officials threatened to thwart the CBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

"The issue wasn't raised," Keay said.

He said the decision to review and delay the documentary was made after "it became clear that this could be the subject of intense scrutiny."

"That was an incentive to take a good, hard look at it (the documentary)," Keay added.