Famous Chinese News Anchor Arrested Hours Before Broadcast

In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, director and anchor of China Central Television Rui Chenggang moderates a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

A popular Chinese news anchor was detained Friday night moments before he was scheduled to go on air.
The celebrity journalist, CCTV’s Rui Chenggang, was taken away by prosecutors before his appearance on the nightly newscast — his absence was conspicuous, as a second microphone remained on the set. The show is usually anchored by two people.

His arrest came less than two months after his boss was detained on suspicion of taking bribes during an ongoing investigation into high-level corruption at China's biggest state-run network. In May, CCTV's financial news director Guo Zhenxi was detained. A few months earlier, a former CCTV vice president also has come under corruption investigation.
It wasn't immediately clear why Chenggang — who has more than 10 million followers on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, and is seen as a face of modern China — was arrested. But on Monday, the Twitter account for People's Daily, the official newspaper of the government of China, alleged that Chenggang held shares in a Beijing subsidiary of Edelman PR, a public relations firm that provides services for CCTV, suggesting the detainment could be related to a wider corruption probe at the broadcaster.
According to one local Beijing outlet, Chenggang’s family allegedly ran a pay-to-play PR firm that charged people to appear on air.

Rui has interviewed many world leaders and business magnates and is known for his nationalistic streak. He has more than 10 million followers on his Twitter-like microblog page.
In 2007, he protested the presence of a Starbucks shop at Beijing's Forbidden City and helped start a grassroots movement that eventually kicked the U.S. brand out of the historic site. He raised eyebrows in 2009 when he claimed he could represent the entire Asia at a news conference for President Barack Obama.
Rui is believed to be close to Guo. In a 2009 profile of Rui in the New York Times, Guo praised Rui as "our star anchor" and said that his newscast was, for the first time, "examining the health of the nation with a television program."

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