Two Republican lawmakers are demanding to know whether NBCUniversal’s coverage of the 2022 Winter Olympics is being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Reps. Robert Latta (R-OH) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) wrote a letter (pdf) to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and President of Olympics and Business Gary Zenkel with questions regarding their ties to Communist China.
“Given China’s history of censorship and government control, and the fact that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stands to benefit financially from NBCUniversal’s coverage of the games, we are concerned about the extent of influence the CCP may have over NBCUniversal’s coverage of the games,” the letters reads.
The letter came amid heightened scrutiny over the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses ahead of the Games.
The issue has prompted the United States and several allies to stage a diplomatic boycott of the event.
In contrast, many corporations linked to the Olympics are remaining silent on the issue of Beijing’s rights violations.
In the letter, the legislators ask NBCUniversal if the CCP or the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tried to influence coverage of the games concerning human rights abuses in Xinjiang and if the company has been prevented from criticizing the Chinese regime in its coverage.
They also inquired about what measures NBCUniversal has taken to make sure the company, as well as its suppliers and support services, do not use forced labor in Xinjiang province.
“The CCP is responsible for atrocities against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province … continues to crack down on the citizens of Hong Kong and silence those who speak out against the party… [and] continues to use its military presence to threaten Taiwan,” states the letter.
“These well-documented facts should startle every American and garner more attention in your corporate boardroom,” it continues.
The United Nations estimates that more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in internment camps in the Xinjiang region.
An independent people’s tribunal, known as the Uyghur Tribunal, ruled in December that the Chinese regime has committed genocide against ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang, through an array of repressive acts including mass internment, family separation, sterilizations, and forced labor.
In addition to its repression in Xinjiang, the CCP has faced international condemnation over its extensive abuses from its clampdown in Hong Kong to its suppression of faith groups.
The lawmakers further asked the company how it would use “its investments in the Games” to expose human rights abuses committed in China.
Last week, NBC assured its coverage of the Olympics would take into account China’s “geopolitical context,” given the “difficult issues” related to the country, Reuters reported.
The statement came in response to pressure from human rights groups and U.S. lawmakers, who demanded the broadcaster to report on human rights abuses in China during the Olympics.
In their letter to NBC, McMorris Rodgers and Latta also asked the company if the CCP has the ability to block its broadcast to the United States, and if it has attempted to change its programming content or coverage.
The letter includes key questions to assess the company’s independence and transparency.
For instance, the firm is asked to disclose the extent of its investments in China and what connections the company has with the CCP.
Analysts have warned that Western companies that do business with China become “hostages” of the regime, forced to do its bidding, lest they be punished by the CCP and suffer economic blows.
As a result, these firms do not dare to criticize the CCP, thus sacrificing free-speech and American values in exchange for profit.
Last year, human rights groups pleaded with TV broadcasters—including NBC—to cancel their coverage of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The groups warned network companies from “being complicit” in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “sport-washing” its serious rights abuses.
They also accused network companies of enabling the Chinese regime to exploit the glamor of the Olympics to improve its reputation and distract people from its record as a gross human rights abuser.
On Human Rights Day—Dec. 10, 2021—15 human rights groups gathered outside of NBC Sports in San Francisco, urging the NBC and other broadcasters not to air the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games are set to start on Feb. 4.