March 31, 2006

Rock magazine hits hurdle in China

BEIJING (Reuters) - The fate of Rolling Stone in China
hangs in the balance weeks after the highly popular release of
the first issue, as a press watchdog cited problems with the
magazine's trade practices rather than controversial content.

A source with the regulatory Shanghai Press and Publication
Bureau denied a report that the U.S.-based rock magazine, which
quickly sold out its first print run this month of more than
100,000 copies, had been banned but said its partnership with a
local publication had not been "satisfactorily explained."

The first edition included a cover of Cui Jian -- China's
rock pioneer -- banned from performing on the mainland until
recently, and Mu Zimei, a controversial blogger whose candid
accounts of sexual adventures led to her site being closed

"(Rolling Stone) just met some technical problems in
application, but it doesn't mean it will be banned here
forever," the source told Reuters without mentioning the

China's publishing market is technically closed to foreign
publications, but many international brand magazines, including
Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan, are permitted to circulate,
subject to partnership with local publishers, strict licensing
and content guidelines.

The source implied that Rolling Stone might be better off
teamed with a stronger local partnership than Audiovisual
World, a small player in China's publishing industry.

"The co-operation model between Rolling Stone and a local
partner could be similar to Elle which has already had
success," he said, referring to the global glossy magazine's
successful entry into the mainland publishing market with a
highly connected, state-owned publisher.

Rolling Stone and Audiovisual World were unavailable for