A Look at What Happens When the Media Get Sued in China

April 26, 2005

According to a report from the Beijing Youth Daily reprinted in on the People's Daily Web site, media outlets in China are likely to lose when they are sued. The article, entitled "When the Media Get Sued - 14 Losses and 1 Win," found that out of 15 cases of "media infringement" tried in the First Beijing Intermediate People's Court in 2004, the media lost 14.


The report said that, of the 15 cases, 10 involved infringement on the right to reputation, and these cases could be divided into six types:

  1. News reports with false or incomplete contents;
  2. News reports that, while factually correct, either used language that was insulting or invective, or included "arbitrary comments that caused a derogation of a third party's social reputation."
  3. Reprinting of news reports without authorization that were later shown not to be truthful;
  4. Use of pictures that were not related to the news report, or using pictures without authorization;
  5. News reports that violated individuals' right to privacy;
  6. News reports that, while praising their subject, were not based on facts, and caused the subject's social reputation to suffer.

Chinese authorities have recently undertaken a propaganda campaign and enacted new regulations to increase their control over news reporters and editors.