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Merger to Form New TV-radio Group
A TV-radio broadcasting group, which will be the largest of its kind in China - made up of China Central Television (CCTV), China Radio (CNR) and China Radio International (CRI) - is scheduled to be put together in July.

A broadcasting authorities official confirmed it yesterday, saying: "A special team is stepping up work in preparation for the 'flagship' group of national TV and radio stations."

This is one of the major steps of the government's reform programme for the radio, television and film industry in a bid to face up to the coming foreign competition that will come with China's entry into the World Trade Organization, said the official, with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), who declined to give his name.

Along with two recently formed local television and radio groups in Hunan Province and Shanghai, the new group will join in the effort to compete with the multinational media giants, the newspaper Guangzhou Daily said on its website.

The first group, Hunan Radio, Film and Television Media Group, was formed on December 27 last year. It owns seven local TV channels, four radio stations, a newspaper, a website, film studios and other businesses, worth a total of 3 billion yuan (US$360 million).

Shanghai announced the formation of its Cultural Radio, Television and Film Group last Thursday.

Late last month, Director-General of SARFT Xu Guangchun said speeding up the building of large-scale radio, television and film groups would be the focus of the State's reform of these industries.

The television and film companies in the country are too scattered and too weak. They have to join forces to become stronger and more competitive, Xu said.

Besides the groups in Hunan, Shanghai and Beijing, other places, including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang will also make up their own groups, according to Xu.

Compared with foreign media giants, China's broadcast businesses are still small.

The largest TV station, CCTV, had an income of only 5 billion yuan (US$600 million) last year, while the MTV network under the US media giant Viacom earned US$5 billion last year, Guangzhou Daily quoted Viacom (China)'s CEO Li Yifei as saying.

Viacom, together with other foreign media giants such as AOL Time Warner, Walt Disney Co and Murdoch's News Corp Ltd, have already sent their analysts to China, for preparing to take a share of the huge market.

"China's radio and television industries are standing at a crossroad," said professor Huang Shengmin of the Beijing Broadcasting Institute.

At a time when domestic competition is heating up, and foreign competitors are at the door, the survival and growth of the companies rely on a breakthrough in their thinking and management and capital support from society, Huang said.

He said if they missed the chance, the whole industry will fall into the swamp of clumsiness and low efficiency, as some of the State-owned enterprises did.

(China Daily 04/26/2001)

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