China is going to import advanced foreign operation models of news media to improve the quality and quantity of news products in the post-World Trade Organization era, the country's information minister said Thursday.
"China has over 500 publishing houses but most of them are operating on quite a small scale with poor competitiveness," Zhao Qizheng, minister of the State Council Information Office, said.
China currently has 26 newspaper groups, eight broadcasting and television groups and six publishing conglomerates.
But Zhao called for the emergence of more giant publishers, newspaper and broadcasting groups.
On media cooperation in the wake of China's WTO entry, Zhao said more overseas media are seeking to have their correspondents stationed in China, while Chinese media are enhancing their coverage of foreign economic trends.
"Chinese journalists should closely watch and reflect the world's economic trends," he said.
Zhao made the remarks during a keynote speech at the World Newspaper Forum, an event staged by Ta Kung Pao to celebrate its centenary.
Attending the forum were more than 100 publishers and senior editors from over 50 newspapers in Asia, Europe and America.
In his speech on the current situation and future development of China's news media in the post-WTO era, Zhao said that the country had made no commitments to open its news media market including newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations.
However, that doesn't mean WTO entry will pose no influence on the future of the country's media industry.
Concerning the Internet, which is commonly recognized as the "fourth medium", Zhao said China had made some market-opening commitments.
According to these commitments, from the day of China's WTO entry, foreign capitals can hold as much as 30 percent of the stake of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and ICPs (Internet Content Providers) in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
One year after entry, the percentage of foreign capital in ISP and ICP firms in 14 cities -- including Nanjing, Hangzhou and Xiamen -- can rise up to 49 per cent.
Two years after entry, there will be no boundary limits for overseas investors, and foreign funds can hold as much as 50 percent of the stakes.
"Although foreign funds are still barred from entering China's news websites (set up by news media in China), foreign capital flow into non-news websites can also exert pressure on domestic professional news websites," said Zhao.
Backed by strong financial resources and rich experience, ICPs with foreign investment will pose a challenge to domestic ones because such foreign-funded ICP websites can also run their own news columns, said the minister. "So, their advantages are quite obvious."
The population of China's netizens now stands at 33.7 million and is growing at a monthly rate of 5 percent.
(China Daily June 14, 2002)