CCTV airs flag-burning footage in blunder

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2011, 12:00am


China Central Television (CCTV) blundered yesterday when its news channel ran footage of the burning of a North Korean flag and a portrait of Kim Jong-il during a report about the North Korean leader's death.

The footage was widely circulated online despite its swift removal from the channel's website.

At 11.28am yesterday, CCTV aired 13 seconds of footage, which it said was from Korean Central Television, while a CCTV anchorwoman began reporting Kim's biography.

The footage showed a man holding a large North Korean flag, with two other men taking photographs.

The flag then caught fire before the footage switched to another scene which showed the burning of Kim's portrait on a piece of fabric.

CCTV then switched back quickly to its anchorwoman.

Southern Metropolis News attached a link to the footage on its Sina microblog page, which was widely disseminated.

Although CCTV had swiftly deleted the footage, The Founder magazine reposted it yesterday afternoon.

A CCTV reporter said such a blunder was quite likely during live broadcasts of unexpected events because it was difficult to sort out archival footage.

The news of Kim's death grabbed headlines, with special reports on many mainland news portals and news websites, mostly citing Xinhua.

The reports featured condolences from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and footage of sobbing North Koreans.

'Kim Jong-il was a great leader of the North Korean people and a close friend of the Chinese people,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

'He made significant contributions to developing North Korean communism and friendship between China and North Korea.'

Mainland internet users however expressed revulsion for Kim's dictatorial rule.

'When [former Czech president] Vaclav Havel died on Sunday, we were upset, but we welcomed Kim's death today,' a microblog user wrote.

'It's not because life isn't equal, but that we know better the true value of life. Some people bring nothing but shame to life.'