Shanghai: China`s state media has launched
stinging attacks on the nation`s hugely popular search engine
Baidu, in what analysts say may signal government unease about
the firm`s growing market power.
This is the second time that Nasdaq-listed Baidu has come
under strong media criticism, after state television blasted
its advertising practices in 2008, forcing it to revamp part
of its business.
The state-run China Central Television (CCTV) once again
attacked the firm, which accounts for more than three-quarters
of China`s web search market, earlier this week in a programme
that alleged fraud by Baidu advertisers.
The show, aired on CCTV`s business channel, claimed Baidu
users were losing money on phony airline tickets allegedly
sold by advertisers on the search engine, among other charges.
Wu Yue, host of the programme, told the audience:
"Obviously Baidu is not able to solve the problem through
self-discipline. A company`s fundamental motive is to chase
"If there is no law or regulation in place to restrict it,
it is difficult to improve the situation at the roots," she
The People`s Daily, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist
Party, joined in the criticism with an opinion piece Tuesday
that said Baidu could be "abandoned" by Internet users if it
only focused on short-term profits.
"It`s time for Baidu to shoulder social responsibility,"
A spokesman for the search engine declined to comment.
Bill Bishop, an independent Beijing-based analyst and
adviser to Internet start-ups, said there were several
theories as to what was behind the criticism, including
possible machinations by current or potential competitors.
"Baidu has become an effective monopoly in Internet
search," he wrote on his blog DigiCha.
"It is unlikely the government is pleased with Baidu`s
market power, and the CCTV report may be a sign that Baidu
should expect increased scrutiny and regulation."