Beijing shows new signs of forcing media to toe line
More mainland journalists have been punished for reporting news
unacceptable to authorities, pointing to renewed efforts to bring the
media under control.
Guangdong propaganda authorities ordered the popular Guangzhou
Television media-watch programme News Eyes to remove its outspoken
chief editor and anchorman, Chen Yang, last weekend, station sources
The order follows punishment meted out to a Shanxi television station
for coverage of a textile-factory closure.
The sources at the Guangzhou TV station said they were ordered to
"tighten news administration and reinforce positive propaganda" on
Sunday and to reshuffle several programmes, including News Eyes.
Chen, who earned a reputation in Guangzhou for his sharp commentary on
current affairs, was banned from any management role on the programme,
possibly because of remarks he made on Saturday’s show, the source
Responding to the vow that President Hu Jintao made in a speech
commemorating the 30th anniversary of reform and opening up "not to
fix things that are not broken", Chen suggested officials not make
"unnecessary exertion but sincerely serve people in a down-to-earth
way", the source said. The comments were interpreted as sarcastic.
A member of the News Eyes staff confirmed Chen had not anchored the
show since Sunday but did not say why, or if he would return.
According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights
and Democracy, Care, a news programme at Linfen Television in Shanxi,
was closed down last month after preparing a piece on the bankruptcy
of the Linfen Textile Factory and protests by thousands of workers.
The programme did not air.
"Censors criticised the finished product for serious political
mistakes, and the municipal authorities ordered [that] the programme
[be] taken off air, with four editors and reporters, including
anchorwoman Chen Xiaoqin , suspended from work," the centre said.
A Linfen Television spokesman confirmed that Care had been shut down
for "various reasons".
Mainland media outlets have been bombarded with propaganda orders this
week, further signs that authorities are trying to maintain social
stability this year.
At a national meeting with publicity department chiefs that ended on
Monday, Communist Party propaganda chief Li Changchun said work this
year should "focus on raising efforts to influence public opinion and
prepare a positive media environment".
In this month’s edition of the party’s official magazine, Qiushi,
Central Publicity Department director Liu Yunshan urged propaganda
officials "to grasp better the right to express the party’s ideology".
"A positive political line is always the top priority in propaganda
work," the publicity chief wrote.