China bans online news organizations from reporting original stories
The Cyberspace Administration of China banned the companies, including Sohu.com, Sina Corp and Net Ease Inc on Friday, telling them to cease their “current affairs news,” according to reports from Chinese media, as reported by Bloomberg.
The companies are accused of having “seriously violated” internet regulations through their original reporting, which caused “huge negative effects,” state media reported. Violators of these regulations will face penalties.
The ban increases China’s influence over what information its people can access, allowing them to shape and suppress news.
President Xi Jinping has told Chinese media it must work in the interests of the Communist Party. “They must love the party, protect the party, and closely align themselves with the party leadership in thought, politics and action,” he said in February.
Chinese authorities have been meeting with online media institutions to discuss a project that would see members of government join the boards of these companies and own a small stake, in return for a licence that would allow them to create daily news.
China’s chief internet regulator was recently replaced by former Shanghai propaganda chief XU Lin.
One week later, the Cyberspace Administration released a statement warning online media against reporting “false news” taken from social media.
“It is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts," the statement said.
The statement explained the requirements as a way to ensure news is “true, comprehensive, objective and fair.”