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Time Out magazine banned by China’s censors in run up to Olympics

Posted by Author on June 13, 2008

Jane Macartney, The Times, UK, from Beijing-

Beijing has declared time out on Time Out. The English-language edition of the monthly magazine that gives foreign residents and visitors the latest lowdown on the coolest bars, the hippest shops and the hottest shows in the Chinese capital has disappeared.

The June issue of Time Out Beijing has been banned from distribution by China’s censors, The Times has learnt. But the decision seems to have been taken not because of any racy or politically incorrect content. Time Out Beijing has fallen victim to the accelerating imposition of restrictions on any aspect of life in the capital deemed to pose a potential threat to a smooth Olympics.

Tom Pattinson, the editor of the magazine, hinted that the timing — just two months before Beijing plays host to the Summer Games — was not coincidence. He told The Times: “The magazine has been impounded while officials look at licensing issues. But these have not changed in the past three and a half years and it is perhaps a strange time to question an issue that has not been a problem before.”

The ostensible reason given by the General Administration of Press and Publications for pulping the June issue was that the magazine lacked a proper licence. But Time Out Beijing has published ever since its launch without completing the proper paperwork and this had never raised eyebrows among the censors who were well aware of one of the most prominent of the tiny number of English-language publications in the capital.

The English edition was at first distributed effectively as an insert to the Chinese-language magazine — which does possess the proper licence. Gaining a publishing licence in a country where all publications are carefully monitored by cultural commissars is a long and tortuous process. For a foreign title, the procedures are doubly difficult and involve publication under the title of a usually defunct local magazine.

A spokesman for Time Out Beijing, now owned by the Hong Kong-listed advertising agency SEEC Media that is very well connected in China, said he could not explain why the June edition had been pulled even before it hit the shelves. “It is not convenient to say,” he said, adding that the magazine hoped to resume publication as soon as possible. Editorial content was already being put together for a possible July edition.

But magazine insiders said that they thought it unlikely that an edition would be available until after the Olympics as nervous censors move to reassert control over all publications before an expected flood of foreign visitors for the Games opening on August 8. …… (more details from The Times)

One Response to “Time Out magazine banned by China’s censors in run up to Olympics”

  1. sonik said

    It’s good for the Olympics

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