[JURIST] The Chinese government said Tuesday that a law imposing fines on media organizations reporting national emergencies without gaining local government approval could go into effect by October. The law, which has been sent to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress [official website; government backgrounder], would fine media organizations up to $12,000 for reporting on emergencies such as riots or natural disasters. A spokesman for the State Council's legislative office said the draft law seeks to prevent the publication of "false or bias news reports," adding that reports lacking detailed information cause public concern. Journalists fear that the draft law will give the government broad powers to restrict coverage of social and political events that may embarrass the Chinese government.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website] has condemned the proposed law [press release] and urged the Chinese government to abandon its plans to implement the law, saying "the proposal furthers attempts by the administration of Chinese President Hu Jintao to restrict reporting by China's increasingly market-driven press." AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.