Chinese journalists have been banned from “critical reporting” without prior approval from their employers, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday, citing a notice released by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
The notice also requires media outlets to bar reporters from privately setting up online platforms to publish critical stories, it said.
In addition, reporters and editors are banned from establishing companies on their own to engage in advertising, marketing and publishing, the report said.
The media watchdog will launch a campaign to crack down on fake news and extortion by journalists and media outlets, according to the notice.
Media organizations that violate regulations and engage in activities such as blackmail, paid stories and withdrawal of negative reports in exchange for payment will have their publishing licenses revoked, and the reporters involved will be stripped of their press cards.
Those suspected of crimes will face court proceedings.
Eight media outlets are said to have been punished recently for such violations, including the Nanfang Daily.
The latest notice from the media regulator has sparked heated discussion in online forums about media restrictions. “[Given the curbs,] what good are reporters?” a netizen wondered.
Zhang Zhian, a professor with Sun Yat-sen University, was quoted as saying that the media’s room for critical coverage is already small in China.
While the media’s supervision rights have not been protected well, journalists too have to take some of the blame, Zhang said, pointing out that some reporters engage in blackmail of local officials and enterprises.
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