Radio and Television Regulator to Hold First Qualification Exam for Broadcast Journalists at End of Year

August 15, 2005

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) will hold that nation's first accreditation examination for broadcast journalists at the end of this year, according to an August 11 report on the People's Daily Web site. The report stated: "Henceforth, any personnel at a legally established radio or television program production agency or at a radio and television broadcasting agency who has not obtained professional accreditation must pass the radio and television editorial journalist and broadcast host accreditation examination and obtain the appropriate accreditation examination certification." Anyone failing to pass the government certification test will be prohibited from working in radio or television journalism.

The examination is being conducted pursuant to the Interim Rules on the Administration of Qualifications of Radio and Television Editorial Journalists and Hosts that SARFT issued in June 2004. Those rules state that only individuals who hold a professional degree or higher and who "endorse the basic ideology, fundamental line, and general and specific policies of the Chinese Communist Party" may obtain government certification to work in radio or television journalism. The rules also prohibit anyone who has been expelled from the Party from becoming a radio or television journalist.

In December 2004, SARFT issued two notices dictating what the political ideology of television editors, reporters, and hosts must be. A week later, SARFT announced that it would require television stations in China to increase control over what television hosts say on the air, and only air programs that "comply with propaganda discipline" produced by government-licensed production companies and screened by relevant officials. In the first four months of 2005, the Chinese government promulgated several regulations restricting who could engage in news reporting and editing, culminating with new SARFT rules requiring radio and television reporters and editors to "put forth an effort to safeguard the interests and the image of the nation," "give priority to positive propaganda," and "carry out China's foreign policies."