Media regulation

GAPP to clean up periodicals; Anti-Piracy Office shuts down a magazine

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Illegal publications.

Yesterday's China Press & Publishing Journal noted that beginning in July of this year, GAPP will begin cleaning up the publishing and circulation of the country's 9468 periodicals.

In particular, GAPP will be enforcing the rules pertaining to periodical registration: "A publication number (刊号) may be only used for a single periodical, it may not be shared between different versions of one periodical; text on the periodical cover may not be more --- than the periodical title; items on the periodical copyright page must be complete..."

See this Danwei feature for examples of how magazines currently get around these rules.

In the same issue of CP&P was a report on the shutdown of China New Observer (中国新观察 aka "China New Observe"), an "illegal publication":

At the end of February, the national Anti-Pornography and Anti-Piracy Office received a report from the masses: a magazine called China New Observer was being marketed under the auspices of the Central Publicity Department and the State Council Development and Reform Commission. The magazine openly claimed that China New Observer "exercises strong guidance over reform and opening up, and is additionally an excellent reference for analysis of China's reform and development trends as well as macro-economic strategy....it publishes columns and submitted articles by well-known academics, and is the first choice of scientific policy makers at all levels of government, enterprise administrators, and Chinese the world over who are concerned with advice on China's reform and development."

According to the reports, the national Anti-Pornography and Anti-Piracy Office immediately sent the case to Beijing's municipal office. Upon investigation, the magazine was suspected of being an illegal publication. Law enforcement officers seized 505 copies of the first and second issues of China New Observer and ordered the work unit to cease printing, publication, and circulation.

According to an individual at the national Anti-Pornography and Anti-Piracy Office, illegal publications masquerading as normal publications with a registration number are frequently encountered, but it is rare to see an illegal periodical masquerade as a publication from an upper-level department. Li Baozhong, full-time vice-director of the Office and head of GAPP's Market Supervision Department, said that this is a relatively typical case - it dared to assume the name of a central organ, and flourished by taking advantage of people unfamiliar with the regulations. More serious is the fact that the periodical had the participation of public officials from certain government offices. He said that compared to pornographic publications, these illegal news and economic publications are even more harmful. Lawless elements edit and publish these journals according to their own designs in a serious departure from correct news guidance. Addressing these illegal publications will be the emphasis of anti-pornography and anti-piracy from now on.

The work unit not only published and distributed the illegal publication, it also issued an electronic version of China New Observer online on a website with the same name. Even more ridiculous is the fact that in the "friendly links" on the website were listed national organs such as the CPC, the NPC, and the State Council.

According to verified reports, the government ascertained that the actions of the China New Observer website severely violated the Decision of the NPC Standing Committee on Safeguarding Internet Security as well as Measures for Managing Internet Information Services. The website was recently closed by the Beijing Municipal Press and Publication Bureau in accordance with the law.

The shutdown calls to mind the recent warning issued to Sanlian Life Week and the gutting of Commoners (story on RFA, mirror at Time blog).

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In this case, however, China New Observer really smells like a publishing scam. Its online version has been taken down, but from cached copies we learn that it lists an address inside the campus of the National Defense University, with editorial offices out in Fengtai. Its publication number, CN11-5065/H, is classified as "languages and orthography," but is actually owned by Agriculture Network Information (CN11-5065/TP).

Similar registration, design, and contact information can be found on China Quality Report (which is unrelated to the China Radio program of the same name) China Legal Observer, and China Legal Supervision, while a late-April posting on the China Door Industry Base website announced that China New Observer, as an authoritative publication produced under the auspices of the Modern Education Press and a number of other well-known organizations, would publish a special issue on China's door industry (image at left).

Attempts to contact domain registrant Hua Wengao via email and SMS received no reply. The land line number listed on the China New Observer website belongs to the Chuhua Cultural Media Company, publisher of books on the New Socialist Countryside as well as a website for Xianning, Hubei, residents.

The man who answered a call to that number seemed unaware of the magazine or its shutdown, but when your correspondent mentioned "online media", he said, "The web site is unavailable," and hung up. Further calls went unanswered. A cached copy of the CCMC Xianning website is available on Baidu.

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There are currently 2 Comments for GAPP to clean up periodicals; Anti-Piracy Office shuts down a magazine.

Comments on GAPP to clean up periodicals; Anti-Piracy Office shuts down a magazine

Am I making a bigger deal out of this than it deserves, or is this going to end up being a really big story? There are countless publications in China, many of them hugely popular, that would be in violation of this law, right? Do you really see this as a major crackdown?

I hope it's just a matter of degree - that they'll bluster about the shared and traded license thing but really just go after the fly-by-night operations that are using faked numbers. There was a two-page spread in this particular issue of CP&P Journal that set out the rules for registration and composition that periodicals must follow (no changes, just repeated for emphasis), but we'll just have to wait and see if it has any teeth.

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