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Chinese TV newsman fired over footage

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BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese television station fired its news chief and punished two other journalists after footage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests inadvertently appeared in the background during a news report.

A station spokeswoman said Friday that the state-run station in the southern city of Zhuhai covered the opening of a cable TV network in neighboring Macau where a video was shown that included three Tiananmen scenes.

Editors failed to notice that Tiananmen images could be seen in the background, she said.

Such footage can be aired in Macau, a former Portuguese colony bordering Zhuhai that reverted to Chinese rule last year. Like the now Chinese-ruled former British colony of Hong Kong, Macau has greater freedoms than the rest of China, where the Tiananmen protests remain a taboo subject.

The chief of the station's news division was dismissed, the editor moved out of the news department and the reporter stripped of several months' bonuses, the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.

She said Zhuhai TV's director and deputy director also were reprimanded. Another station official said the offending report aired July 9 on Zhuhai TV's evening news show.

A Hong Kong rights group, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, identified the dismissed news chief as Lin Shufu. It said the roughly two-second clip showed protesters confronting tanks.

China's army, under orders from the communist leadership, crushed the Tiananmen protests on June 4, 1989, killings hundreds, possibly thousands.

It has ignored appeals by relatives of the dead and injured for compensation, an apology and punishment of those responsible.