Chinese Province Clamps New Rules to Regulate Media

K J M Varma/Beijing
Chinese Province Clamps New Rules to Regulate Media

A Chinese province has clamped 10 new rules to regulate media including publication of news items on national security, publishing reports without official verification and paid news coverage, in a move to further tighten the grip on the state media.

Hunan Province's media watchdog and state-run Journalists' Association have jointly released 10 rules regulating media workers' conduct in an effort to preserve the reputation of the press and to tackle proliferation of false information and paid news coverage, state-run Global Times reported.

It included regulations on media workers' political stance, professional behaviour and economic interests.

The regulations warrant the media professionals against publishing information or rumours from the Internet before verifying them.

Media should not publish news stories declaring any parties guilty before the courts pass judgment, it said.

Analysts say these stipulations could help crack down on rampant Internet rumours.

Though both print and television media expanded rapidly in recent years, it still remains largely government controlled.

The state media, however, has been challenged by the rapid growth of social media. China mobile internet connections have reached 594 million, the highest in the world.

He Hui, an expert from the Public Relations and Public Opinion Institute of the Communication University of China, said that "the regulations have arisen from the government's need to enhance management of journalism and from the industry's need for better self-discipline. Paid coverage and the publication of online rumors have been long-standing issues, and strengthening related management could reduce such behaviors to some extent."

Media workers should not reveal or seek profit from information they obtain by taking advantage of their duties, including national or trade secrets, or information violating an individual's privacy, the regulations said.

They also ban media from making personal profit through blackmail, using news coverage as a means of reprisal, writing news stories for payment from non-media parties and arranging interviews without possessing a journalist certificate.

The regulations also ask that media workers not report on news that jeopardises national security, affects social stability, goes against common moral standards, goes against the public interest, the worship of money and hedonism.

However, analysts said that the regulations may have a limited effect since there are no national journalism laws.

"The regulations, although well-intentioned, may have limited effects. Instead of making a law on journalism, which should stipulate both press workers' rights and obligations, the regulations lay one-sided emphasis on press workers' obligations," said Liu Hailong, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China.

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