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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 07:35 GMT
Beijing combats media corruption
By Francis Markus
BBC correspondent in Shanghai

Man at a newsstand in Beijing (archive picture)
Newspapers have to compete fiercely for advertising space
China says it will introduce new measures barring journalists from reporting if they are found to have made up stories or taken bribes.

The journalist concerned could be banned from reporting for five years, or even for life if the offence leads to a criminal penalty.

The rules also set out guidelines on how to avoid conflicts of interest.

They were issued by the Communist Party and media watchdogs, but it is unclear when they will come into effect.

Driven by the need to sell newspapers and advertising space, China's media has been increasingly turning into what one local journalist called "a dog serving two masters - not just the Communist Party, but also the market".

The result has been a steady surge towards sensationalism among some of China's once staid newspapers.

The latest announcement from Beijing's regulatory authorities seems to be aimed at addressing some of the side effects.

Yet reactions to the measures are likely to be mixed.

There is widespread public cynicism about journalistic ethics and suspicion of reporters' roles.

But the regulations will also stir fears among those trying to write about abuses of power or corruption that they could be targeted.

A number of high-profile journalists have already been detained in cases which international media rights groups warn are centred on their bold reporting of touchy issues.



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