Beijing: China has punished six newspapers and magazines for violating rules, an official report said on Wednesday.

Accused of illegally leasing local branches to advertising agencies for making profits and employing non-journalists for reporting and publishing work, the Chinese government regulators sent warnings to leading media houses, fined them up to USD 28,400 and removed their illegal branches.

The violators include China Urban Economy Magazine, China Quality Journey Magazine, China Technology Market News, China Food Publishing Co Ltd, Shandong Legal News and Enterprise Party Construction Information Weekly, an agency quoted a statement by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

The Beijing-based magazine China Urban Economy was stripped of its publishing license. In 2010 and 2011, the magazine authorised the use of its title to several contracted advertising agencies to charge "management fees" and allowed their employees to conduct interviews with the magazine's work permit and letter of introduction.

With the magazine's press cards, two advertising agents Xu Cheng and Li Wanjun allegedly extorted 20,000 yuan from a local real estate group during an ‘investigative interview’ on May 25, 2011, in Luoyang City, Henan Province.

As per GAPP rules, local newspaper branches and their staff reporters are not allowed to engage in extortion by threatening to expose inside stories.

Paid news, forced subscriptions and forced advertising in return for complimentary reports are also banned.