Chinese media executives detained amid scandal



Beijing: Chinese police detained the publisher and the general manager of an influential business publication today, weeks after some editors and reporters for the publication's website were detained on allegations of extortion, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It said Shen Hao, publisher of the 21st Century Business Herald, and general manager Chen Dongyang were taken away by police, but did not say what charges they might face.

The financial publication is part of the influential Nanfang Media Group. Officials at the group were not immediately available for comment.

Corruption has plagued China's media industry, where extortion in exchange for cover-ups and payments for news are common.

In early September, police said some employees of the publication's website, 21cbh.Com, had extorted money from companies by threatening to publish negative news about them.

Chinese newspapers, broadcasters and other media are all owned by the state or the ruling party. But they must support themselves financially, and as long as they work within official censorship guidelines, most can make their own editorial decisions.

Low-paid journalists routinely accept money from companies to attend events or report on them and sometimes seek payments to suppress information about scandals.

Some senior reporters and editors are also tasked with bringing in advertising revenue.

Following a recent investigation into state television's financial news channel, media reports said Guo Zhenxi, the channel's director, effectively controlled a dozen or so public relations companies. Businesses had to pay hefty "protection fees" to avoid negative news coverage, while those receiving favourable coverage offered advertising contracts and stock options, they said. 

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