China punishes six media companies for professional violations

Beijing: Government regulators punished six newspapers and magazines for illegally leasing local branches to advertising agencies that allegedly indulged in extortion and for employing non-journalists for reporting and publishing work.

The violators include China Urban Economy Magazine, China Quality Journey Magazine, China Technology Market News, China Food Publishing Co., Ltd., Shandong Legal News and Enterprise Party Construction Information Weekly, according to a statement released Tuesday by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

These papers and magazines received warnings and were fined up to 180,000 yuan ($28,400), and their illegally established branches were removed, Xinhua quoted the statement as saying.

The Beijing-based magazine China Urban Economy was stripped of its publishing license.

In 2010 and 2011, the magazine authorized the use of its title to several contracted advertising agencies to charge “management fees” and allowed their employees to do interviews with the magazine’s work permit and letter of introduction.

With the press cards issued by the magazine, two advertising agents Xu Cheng and Li Wanjun allegedly extorted 20,000 yuan from a local real estate group during an “investigative interview” May 25, 2011, in Luoyang city, Henan province.

According to rules, local newspaper branches and their staff reporters are not allowed to engage in extortion by threatening to expose inside stories. Paid news, forced subscriptions and forced advertising in return for complimentary reports are also banned.

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