More CCTV Anchors Embroiled in Widening Chinese Corruption Probe

CCTV Still - H 2012

CCTV Still - H 2012

Ye Yingchun and Bing Shen have become embroiled in the probe because of their alleged links to former oil boss and security czar Zhou Yongkang, who is currently under investigation

Two more anchors from China’s state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), Ye Yingchun and Bing Shen, have become embroiled in a widening corruption probe, which is now threatening senior members of the ruling Communist Party elite.

The two women are said to be under investigation because of their links to former oil boss and security czar Zhou Yongkang, who was a member of the party's all-powerful Politburo standing committee until 2012, and is the highest-profile political figure yet of the crackdown on corruption.

Rumors are swirling of sexual peccadilloes in the media industry, with much of the speculation focused on Zhou. Photos of Zhou and his alleged dangerous liaisons in cars are flying around Chinese social media.

Zhou’s wife Jia Xiaoye is a former presenter and producer at CCTV-2, and is 28 years his junior. Jia formerly worked with both Ye and Shen.

President Xi Jinping has pledged to root out graft in China, whether it involves massive wealth accumulated by the powerful "tigers" of the elite or backhanders palmed over to the "flies" at the bottom of the Communist Party, although many say what is taking place is merely a faction fight.

One of China's most popular news anchors, Rui Chenggang, was detained shortly before he was due to make his nightly broadcast on CCTV in July.

The government's investigation into corruption has spread its remit to include key figures in the media industry.

Rui, host of Economic News, was detained so suddenly by prosecutors there was an empty chair left where he should have been sitting to present his popular nightly business news show.

Rui was taken away with Li Yong, deputy director of CCTV's financial news channel, and an unnamed producer.

The anti-corruption investigation by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection (CCDI) has taken some big scalps to date, most notably Bo Xilai, the former party boss in Dalian and Chongqing who was purged last year and is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power while his wife sits in jail for murder.

Zhou is a former ally and patron of Bo.

Last December, former vice CCTV president Li Dongsheng was arrested. Since then there had been media reports saying that the Central Discipline Inspection Commission and the National Audit Office both have set up five teams investigating CCTV. Hundreds of CCTV members have been interrogated and many were dismissed and arrested.

CCTV has also recently been under intense investigation. Officials announced an investigation into suspected bribery by CCTV's advertising director and the director-general of its finance and economics channel, Guo Zhenxi, and producer Tian Liwu, who were taken into custody on suspicion of corruption. And in July, Liu Wen, the director-general of documentary channel CCTV-9, was also arrested on suspected corruption and fraud allegations. 

The media sector has come in for scrutiny of late. Chinese journalists often receive cash in envelopes for attending press conferences, and there have been scandals about journalists blackmailing companies to ensure positive coverage.