A senior executive with state broadcaster CCTV, at one point in charge of billions of yuan in advertising revenue, has been detained by prosecutors on suspicion of corruption.
Guo Zhenxi, 49, China Central Television's financial news channel director, and producer Tian Liwu, are suspected of accepting bribes and were taken into custody in "recent days", the Supreme People's Procuratorate said in a brief statement late last night.
Earlier, the influential mainland news outlet Caixin, citing several anonymous sources, reported that Guo had been detained by prosecutors from Jilin province. CCTV did not did not comment.
Caixin reported following the fall in December of former deputy national police chief Li Dongsheng, who had a long stint with CCTV, that there had been rumours Guo was assisting authorities with their investigation of Li.
Li is widely seen as a close aide of the former security tsar Zhou Yongkang , who himself is under a Communist Party graft probe.
Guo joined the network as a financial reporter in 1992 and became a deputy chief of advertising in 1998, according to Caixin.
Between 2005 and 2009, he served a dual role as both the state broadcaster's advertising chief and head of its financial news channel, CCTV-2. He gave up the marketing role in 2009.
The official China Daily reported that auctions for CCTV advertising slots raised 2.6 billion yuan (HK$3.2 billion) in 2002, jumping to 9.3 billion yuan by 2009. Last year, the figure reached 15.9 billion yuan.
As financial news channel chief, Guo oversaw two programmes popular among China's business circles: a business personality and a consumer rights programme.
Business leaders who appear on Chinese Annual Economic Figures gain an enormous amount of exposure.
The consumer rights programme, 315 Gala, which coincides with World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, sends undercover reporters to investigate irregular business practices.
"With his powerful position within this powerful organisation - which enjoys a national television monopoly - you can imagine how many people stand in line to bribe him," said Deng Yuwen , a former deputy editor for the Central Party School's Study Times.
Zhang Zhian, a professor of journalism at Sun Yat-sen University, said it was ill-advised to have the same person head an editorial and advertising department of a broadcaster as vast as CCTV.
"The content-providing departments should be separate from those overseeing commercial interests," he said.