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Canada’s Olympic TV broadcaster reviewing film on Falun Gong after China embassy Pressure

Posted by Author on November 8, 2007

By Joan Delaney and Matthew Little, Epoch Times Victoria and Winnipeg Staff, Nov 08, 2007-

CBC has asked an independent filmmaker to edit his documentary on Falun Gong after a cultural attaché at the Chinese embassy complained about the film, which details the persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China.

Peter Rowe, who wrote, directed, and produced Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong for CBC Newsworld’s documentary program, The Lens , said he received a surprise call Tuesday from CBC just hours before the program was to air.

“They said they had some bad news, and they were sorry but the film wasn’t going to be shown and that they felt the film should be re-edited,” said Rowe.

Red Wall was promoted in television spots and on the CBC website for weeks. Viewers who contacted the CBC Tuesday were told the abrupt cancellation was due to “contract issues.”

Jeff Keay, CBC’s head of media relations English communications, told The Epoch Times on Wednesday that the show was “pre-empted” to make room for a re-run documentary on Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf, which he described as “timely.”

But he also admitted a cultural representative in Ottawa’s Chinese embassy had called CBC within the last week to complain about the film and that CBC was now reviewing it.

“It sounds like they were reacting to the promotional stuff, and they registered their concerns about Falun Gong,” said Keay, adding that editors were now considering how to make the film “a better documentary.”

But Rowe says the film already went through a rigorous editing process. He is not interested in making more changes.

CBC editors and lawyers approved the documentary in March. It aired last week in French Canada and has also been shown in Spain, Portugal, and New Zealand, with Ireland soon to follow.

Rowe questions why the film should be revised for English Canadian viewers.

“When you have a decision at the 11th hour like this you’ve got to wonder if it’s a rational, measured decision about the quality of the film, or if it’s a reaction to pressure.”

CBC has denied it is giving into pressure from the Chinese regime.

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Keay says. But Rowe says CBC editors asked him to change segments of the film that are particularly sensitive to the Chinese authorities.

One such segment deals with reports that the Chinese communist regime has been killing Falun Gong believers for their organs and selling the organs for profit, some to foreigners.

In the film, Rowe interviews former Canadian parliamentarian David Kilgour who together with human rights lawyer David Matas has investigated the organ harvesting claims.

Their report, released last year, confirmed the practice is taking place.

Rowe says CBC also asked for edits to a segment of the film that discredits an alleged “self-immolation” incident. In January 2001, several people set themselves on fire in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The Chinese authorities widely propagated footage of the incident, claiming the immolators to be Falun Gong practitioners and alleging that Falun Gong had led them to burn themselves. The footage has been one of the regime’s greatest justifications for its now-seven-year persecution of the group.

An analysis of the self-immolation video in Rowe’s film supports that the incident was staged.

Cutting such content would amount to censorship, believes Rabbi Reuven Bulka, a doctor and co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Bulka has supported investigation into the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

“Those things are true,” said Bulka. “If you take that out you are not going to have an honest picture of what is going on.”

Viewers in French Canada who saw the documentary said it offered information on a topic not often covered in mainstream media.

Ginette Collin, a 63-year-old nurse in Edmundston, NB, saw the documentary in French a couple of Sundays ago on RDI Reportage.

“It is very well done to the tee and a current topic, especially in the run-up to the Olympics,” said Collin. “I had no idea that they were doing this and if it’s true it’s a real butchery, and I think that the people should boycott the Olympics.”

Last week, Rowe had praised the CBC – Canada’s broadcaster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing – for its courage to cover the persecution of Falun Gong despite its interests in China.

This week, he’s wondering if his film will ever air.

CBC said it still intends to broadcast Beyond the Red Wall , but so far has given no date.

– Original report from the Epochtimes: CBC Pulls TV Documentary After Call From Chinese Envoy

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