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China issues slew of regulations to curb media

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Apr 17 (Reuters) China has issued a series of notices in the past week aimed at regulating media content in an attempt to control an increasingly free-wheeling news environment.

But media watchers said that rather than signalling a new tightening, the rules simply follow a trend towards regulating a business whose myriad blogs, tabloids and television dramas present a challenge to the ruling Communist Party's desire the control the flow of information.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television reissued notices restricting local broadcasters' use of foreign news footage and the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) introduced restrictions on foreign magazines publishing Chinese versions.

And in a twist, news Web sites collectively agreed to censor themselves to eradicate pornography and violence along with other ''unhealthy content''.

''When they feel there is a problem they adopt measures to block or control,'' said Jiao Guobiao, a journalism professor who lost his job after denouncing China's propaganda controls.

''This is their consistent thought. I don't think it has any new significance.'' The regulations follow a series of moves over the past year that included sacking editors of some of China's bolder publications and forcing bloggers and chat-room participants to use their real names.

They have also attracted the attention of human rights groups, who say US companies have been complicit in providing information that resulted in the detention of Internet writers and urged President George W. Bush to raise the issue with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, when they meet later this week.

Reuters SI GC1614

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