China investigates senior state TV official over bribery: Xinhua

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's top prosecutor is investigating a senior executive with state broadcaster CCTV on suspicion of bribery, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as the government's anti-corruption campaign intensifies.

The government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China since President Xi Jinping's appointment last year. Public flaunting of personal, and often illicit, wealth had been common and had led to widespread criticism of the ruling Communist Party.

Xinhua, citing a statement from state prosecutors, said Guo Zhenxi, CCTV's advertising director and director-general of its finance and economics channel, had been detained because he was"suspected of bribery".

The Xinhua report late on Sunday said another official, Tan Liwu, a producer on CCTV's finance channel, had also been detained. It gave no other details.

The influential magazine Caixin said Guo had been detained in the northeastern province of Jilin.

CCTV, which has been pushing its international presence in recent years, is viewed by the government as an enormously influential and useful propaganda tool, both at home and abroad.

However, it has also come under criticism in recent years for some poorly conceived or sourced programmes.

For example, CCTV said last year Chinese property developers owed as much as 3.8 trillion yuan (S$780 billion) in unpaid land taxes. The tax bureau, while not naming CCTV, said the estimates were inaccurate and a misreading of tax policy.

While Beijing keeps a tight rein on domestic media, reforms over the past decade that have allowed greater media commercialisation and limited increases in editorial independence, combined with the rise of social media, have weakened government control.

That has led to periodic crackdowns on Chinese media, including sacking of staff deemed to have stepped out of line or who were seen as questioning the Communist Party's wide-ranging controls and censorship.

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