Television censor gets 10 years for taking bribes

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-18 0:08:02

A censor in China's broadcast administration has been sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison for taking bribes from production companies for helping them get permits for their television shows.

Li Ning, a censor with the television department at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, received his sentence on August 11 for taking bribes of 300,000 yuan ($48,859), beginning in 2006 when he took the position, Beijing-based Legal Mirror reported on Wednesday.

"It is common to bribe censors. The watchdog issued so many complicated regulations on TV series that [companies] can't properly handle all the small details," Ying Xiaoqiang, a Hangzhou-based media observer, told the Global Times.

Censors at the television department therefore play a very important role in interpreting the regulations to help production companies grasp these subtleties and choose the proper perspective for their shows, Wang Hailin, screenwriter of popular history drama The Bronze Teeth, told the Global Times.

"Some production companies have to consult the censors at the very beginning of story writing, including on outlines and scripts," Wang said.

"The censors' advice can help companies cut down on revisions during production and minimize losses. Companies sometimes have to cut several episodes if they make revisions without 'guidance,'" Wang said.

"Sometimes bribery is disguised as something else. For example, censors might be listed as script supervisors and the reward becomes legal," Wang added.

The popular TV series In Love with Power was rejected twice by administration in 2012 until Li Ning gave some "tips" for its revision. The producers felt beholden to Li and gave him 50,000 yuan, according to the Legal Mirror report.

Censors' guidance can also shorten review times for TV shows, Ying added. "Revisions could last for months, but shows cannot wait that long before airing. So we refer to their 'tips' in order to speed up the approval process," Ying said.

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