China Bans Unauthorized Critical Media Coverage

Reuters reports on a new rule from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s main state media regulator, forbidding journalists and media organizations from publishing “critical” reports without approval from their Party work unit:

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television published the rule in a circular announcing a crackdown on false news and journalists who take bribes or extort money from their sources.

News agencies must crack down on corruption and journalists who break the law must be handed over to judicial authorities, the regulator said. Journalists who violate the rules will be stripped of their license to report.

Journalists are also forbidden from setting up their own websites, video sites or writing internal reports with critical content, it added. The regulator did not specify what constituted critical content or what particular subjects journalists can not criticise.

[…] News agencies must regularly solicit opinions from “the masses”, as well as propaganda authorities and other media regulators, including itself, it said.

[…] Media that violated the rules could be stripped of their licenses, it added. [Source]

No specifications were provided by SAPPRFT on what qualifies a report as “critical.” This new rule comes as the central government is steadily ramping up measures to control online and print media, including an ongoing rumor crackdown, an anti-vulgarity drive, and mandatory education in the “Marxist view of journalism” for reporters. China, infamous for exercising strict censorship over official outlets and encouraging self-censorhsip in the independent media, recently came in 173/180 on Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. While the government has long-held control over domestic media through directives issued by state censors, Beijing is becoming increasingly effective in using economic leverage to influence foreign media companies—see CDT coverage of Beijing’s expanding media influence in Hong Kong and Taiwan or Bloomberg’s decision to dampen coverage of ties between politics and money, for example.