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AP - 2007-11-10 01:20:12 - TORONTO (AP) - Canada's national news broadcaster said Friday that it has asked for cuts before it will air a heavily-promoted Falun Gong documentary that it pulled from its schedule at the request of Chinese officials.
The government-owned news network CBC had planned to air the documentary, «Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong,» on Tuesday, but postponed its showing after receiving calls from the Chinese Embassy and the consulate in Toronto, said network spokesman Jeff Keay.
The film will be aired on Nov. 20 after the filmmaker, Peter Rowe, makes cuts recommended by the network, said Keay.
Keay would not elaborate on the cuts. Rowe did not immediately return calls.
«We want to make sure it's an absolutely rigorous piece of work because it's become clear. . . that there's a lot of interest in this thing,» Keay said. «We want to make sure it's a solid piece of work that will stand up to intense scrutiny.
Canadian Falun Gong spokesman Joel Chipkar said the cuts are related to execution pictures, since the network was concerned about whether they were actually Falun Gong members.
China maintains that Falun Gong is a cult that threatens political stability. Rowe's film argues that Chinese authorities spread false news reports to make the group look dangerous and unstable.
CBC had advertised the broadcast for days in advance. It had already aired it on its French-language network Radio-Canada and in English late at night on the CBC in 2006 without promotion.
Rowe said in an earlier interview he was surprised to hear from the CBC only a few hours before the documentary was to air since it was licensed by the CBC in 2004 and he was told it had been reviewed by the broadcaster's lawyers late last year.
«If the American government had tried to put this pressure on the CBC not to run this kind of documentary, you can imagine what kind of reaction they would have had internally,» said Rowe. «With China, it's felt like we have to treat them in a very special way.
Members of Falun Gong in Canada said the Chinese government is trying to control media outside China as well.
«The Chinese government has been trying to silence the media about Falun Gong for years in China, so we're not surprised they contacted the CBC,» Chipkar saud.
«But we are surprised the CBC bent to their demands, that they gave in to the communist pressure. It leaves them with a black mark on their attitude towards human principles,» he said.
Both Rowe and Chipkar argued that the CBC's decision was influenced in part by the fact that the network will be the main Canadian broadcaster of the Beijing Olympics next summer.
Keay denied that claim.
According to a monitoring group, China secretly issued an order banning Falun Gong activists from next year's Olympics, saying that they were a threat and would hurt the image of the games.
Human rights organizations have reported executions and torture of Falun Gong members by Beijing after the movement was banned eight years ago as an «evil cult» following a mass protest outside government headquarters.