Police take away leaders of media company

Updated: 2014-09-26 07:38

By HE NA(China Daily)

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Editor-in-chief and general manager work at group linked to extortion allegations

Two leaders at a business media company were taken away by police on Thursday afternoon, Xinhua News Agency reported.

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Shen Hao, editor-in-chief of 21st Century Media Co Ltd, a giant media chain belonging to Nanfang Media Group, which publishes 21st Century Business Herald, Money Week, 21st Century Business Review and the website 21cbn.com, and Chen Dongyang, general manager of the media chain, were led away just after noon, according to a witness quoted by the report.

Other officers remained at the building and continued searching the pair's offices.

Shen was born in 1971 in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, and graduated from Peking University. Chen graduated from a university in Guangdong in 1992. Both have worked for Nanfang Media Group since graduation.

The group held a Party committee meeting and decided to remove both leaders from their posts. It named Wang Yijun as the new secretary and Guo Yile as the new vice-secretary of the company's Party committee.

"I do not know many details about the issue, but as far as I know it might be concerned with extortion in the media and paid-for news coverage, making use of negative reports to threaten IPO companies for huge amounts of money," said Hu Xingdou, a political analyst with the Beijing Institute of Technology.

Hu, a professor, was referring to a story by Xinhua on September 5 that said 21st Century Media Co's business news website 21cbn.com had its license revoked and all staff members were laid off.

Police say the business news website and two public relations firms collaborated to extort money from companies in return for favorable coverage and withholding negative news reports on the website. If companies refused, the website would publish negative or malicious information about them.

"For police to take away the people in charge must mean they have evidence to prove the previous allegations against them," said Wang Xixin, a professor of administrative law at Peking University.

"The media has been empowered with many rights such as supervision and reporting and reflecting common people's needs. However, at the same time, the problem of abusing these rights to make a profit also exists."

"As I have learned, not only 21cbn but also some private websites also partly live by using negative reports to extort money from people or enterprises," Hu said.

"It's hard to say whether the case is the beginning of the central government's enhanced management of the media and their reports," said Wang, the professor.