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Rolling Stone scrutinized in China

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Friday, March 31, 2006

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 US-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 down. "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 content. 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 comment.

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