Beijing subway relaxes newspaper sales ban

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 January, 2010, 12:00am

Beijing subway authorities have relaxed a ban on newspaper sales on subway platforms after sharp criticism from publishers and commuters.

Certain commercial activities, including newspaper and magazine sales, will now be allowed in the underground sections of some subway stations, after safety evaluations and where space permits, the Beijing government news portal reported.

Subway authorities banned the sale of newspapers in the city's 70-plus subway stations two weeks ago, citing security concerns.

However, Beijing Star Daily, a free tabloid under municipal mouthpiece Beijing Daily, was not affected. The authorities said it could still be distributed because it was 'the only metro paper endorsed by the municipal party publicity department'.

The ban was sharply criticised by newspaper publishers, who said allowing only one newspaper on subway platforms amounted to unfair competition. Passengers also complained and questioned how a newspaper stand could be unsafe.

Subway officials said that after considering passengers' demands, booths were planned above ground. When new stations were being planned, business venues for services such as newspaper sales would be considered for underground locations, the report said.

Distribution of Beijing Star Daily, which has been handed out for free near ticket offices and customer service centres, would be moved above ground, the report said.

The subway authorities said more than 4.8 million people took the subway every day and bad weather sometimes made congestion even worse, prompting the original ban on unauthorised newspaper sales.