Shanghai slaps harsh penalties on TV hosts marking birthday of tycoon Zhou Zhengyi

Published (HKT): 2021.05.02 05:52

Six Shanghai television anchors and their supervisors have been disciplined for attending the birthday bash of disgraced tycoon Zhou Zhengyi, who was released last year after 14 years in jail.

The six TV anchors, five from Shanghai Dragon Television and one from the China Business Network, were taken off air after they joined the high-profile celebration of Zhou’s 60th birthday on April 18. Both networks are part of the portfolio of the state-owned Shanghai Media Group.

Zhou was once Shanghai’s richest man, but was sent behind bars for 16 years in 2007 over bribery and embezzlement. He received an early discharge last year.

Following the birthday banquet, rumors of each of the six TV hosts getting a fee of 100,000 yuan (US$15,450) to show up spread online, causing the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to step in. The media group quickly denied the rumor.

The media group held a meeting on April 26, Singtao Daily reported. All middle management employees were notified of the meeting and the seriousness of the mistakes made by the six hosts. Staff were informed that TV anchors had attended Zhou’s birthday celebration and made inappropriate remarks, and had subsequently been asked to leave the dinner venue early.

Communist Party members on the media group’s management found the six had violated the moral standards of show hosts. Two of the anchors, also members of the party, allegedly suffered a “serious lack of political sensitivity.” The meeting ruled that the anchors would be suspended from work, which included hosting major public events and appearing in public announcements. All six were required to write a report reflecting on their mistakes.

The China Business Network anchor was blacklisted immediately. The five with Shanghai Dragon Television had their show host licenses suspended indefinitely and were banished from appearing at local TV stations. One was fired by Shanghai Dragon Television, while three of her colleagues would receive the minimum salary in the coming year and were banned from appearing on other local TV channels.

Their supervisors were also penalized. The station would also implement programs to improve show hosts’ standards by strengthening their knowledge of the party history in order to raise their political awareness and understanding of the “big picture.”

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