A provincial Chinese television station apologised to viewers on Monday after full frontal male nudity was broadcast as part of an early evening news item about sex workers at a massage parlour in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu. Sichuan Radio and Television Station published the apology on its Weibo microblog account, blaming editorial staff who failed to edit the “inappropriate scene” from the bulletin shown on Saturday. The broadcaster said the 11-minute report was intended to prompt debate on the issue and “carelessness, negligence and lack of responsibility” by staff meant viewers of the programme – which ran between 6pm and 7.50pm – saw a nude male with a masseuse. In the report, an undercover member of the investigation team takes a hidden camera into the massage parlour before being offered a “groping service” for 160 yuan (US$23) or full sex for 260 yuan. The man was seen paying 60 yuan for a regular massage. While it is not uncommon for Chinese media to go undercover to investigate issues such as prostitution and unlicensed food processing, debate raged across social media about whether it was ethical for the broadcaster to have aired the video at all. “It’s broadcasting pornography in the name of media supervision [journalism], aiming to boost ratings,” a Weibo user said in response to the apology. Footage from the report uploaded to social media by viewers was removed but stills taken from the video appeared online, prompting internet users to mock the report. Chinese women ‘tricked into Singapore sex trade by WeChat prostitution ring’ “The man will be fired,” one Weibo user said. Others defended the broadcaster. “They will cover regardless of good news or bad news, regardless of who the subject matter is,” another Weibo user said, but admitted that using the footage was a “major accident”. Sichuan Radio and Television Station declined to respond to a request for comment.