BEIJING - China's campaign to stamp out corruption has emboldened the country's normally docile state media to push the barriers in exposing corporate wrongdoing.
While it's still off-limits to delve too deeply into what government leaders and powerful institutions may be up to, recent 'undercover' state TV reports accusing state-owned Bank of China of aiding money laundering and a US-owned food supplier of safety violations suggest the media are more ready to run critical reports.
China's central bank said earlier this month it was investigating allegations by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) that Bank of China offers a service to help Chinese move more of their cash offshore than is allowed.
Bank of China, the country's fourth largest lender, has denied the allegations. "Part of the reason the report went forward was because of the anti-corruption campaign," said a CCTV network employee.
"It isn't like corruption never existed before, but now there's a bit more room to report on it."
Five current and former CCTV employees told Reuters that while the network had run critical reports on state-owned enterprises before, it was unusual to target a major entity such as Bank of China. All asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. CCTV could not be reached for comment.
"The Bank of China investigative reporting by CCTV is definitely part of the government-wide push to clamp down on corruption and related activities," another CCTV insider said, adding that Chinese-language TV channels were putting more resources into chasing investigative stories.
Foreign companies operating in China, and their local suppliers, are also in state-media's crosshairs.
A documentary last week by Shanghai government-owned Dragon TV accused food supplier Shanghai Husi Food, owned by Illinois-based OSI Group, of mixing expired meat with fresh produce, triggering a food safety scandal that has since spread to Hong Kong and Japan.
Several foreign fast-food brands, including McDonald's Corp , pulled the company's products from their outlets and switched suppliers. Regulators in Shanghai said Husi forged production dates on smoked beef patties and sold them after they had expired.