China orders further crackdown on domestic media

China has ordered a further crackdown on its domestic media, telling news organizations to sack illegally recruited employees and close local offices if they have too many of them, state news agency Xinhua reported. State media has been the key vehicle for party propaganda, but reforms over the past decade have allowed greater commercialization and some increase in editorial independence. But China media watchers say corruption has become a problem, with blackmail a widespread practise in the domestic press and journalists being susceptible to bribes.

Some news groups have too many local offices and employ personnel through unofficial channels, resulting in frequent illegal acts that severely undermine the spirit of journalism, harm the authority and credibility of news and lead to grave social consequences.

A Xinhua report that cited a government statement

At the same time, President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping tightening of controls over what state-run media can report, as part of a broader campaign against anyone seen as challenging the ruling Communist Party. In September, executives of a respected business newspaper website confessed on state television that they extorted “huge payments” from companies that planned to list in exchange for quashing critical stories. There has also been a crackdown at the main state broadcaster CCTV, where prosecutors have detained a top news anchor and a senior executive is being investigated on suspicion of bribery.