China is preparing to ban all the private investment in media organisations in China.
The new law, drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission, would ban any private investment in ‘news gathering, editing, and broadcasting’.
It marks the ruling CCP’s latest crackdown on private enterprise, after the country’s booming tech sector and billionaire owners were hammered earlier this year.
Laws controlling who can fund news gathering have been in place since at least 2005, according to the South China Morning Post – one of the papers which could be affected by the change.
But the rules have generally only applied to physical papers and enforcement has been lax, allowing online outlets to proliferate with private investment.
The new law, which was drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission and is currently out for review, appears designed to close that loophole.
It is contained within a document called the Market Access Negative List, which outlines sectors where private investment – money that does not come directly from the state or state-owned companies – is prohibited or restricted.
Item six on the list amounts to a broad and near-total ban on private investment in all types of media – from news agencies, to radio and TV, and online content.
It would also ban private companies from live broadcasting anything to do with ‘politics, economics, military, and foreign affairs, or major activities or incidents in society, culture, technology, health, education, and sports.’
Privately-owned media would also be banned from ‘introducing news released by foreign entities’ – suggesting that overseas outlets operating within China could also be caught up in the ban.
The ban would even affect ‘summits and award shows’ hosted by news publishers.
A retired lecturer at Shanxi University, who gave his name only as Luo, told Radio Free Asia that the Communist Party ‘is making sure that it controls its message’.