World Media in 2005: China

Although everything is still state-owned in China, entry for media owners is no longer reliant on joint ventures with Chinese companies. However, going it alone can still be a daunting prospect.

China is on course to become the world's second-largest economy and the world's largest economic power by 2041 - four decades after its WTO entry. At the start of 2005, China's population hit 1.3 billion, making it an attractive prospect for media owners and brands.

Its economic growth, powered from its business capital, Shanghai, has been so rapid in recent years that its economy faces concerns of over-heating: The Economist speculates that there may even be an increase in interest rates this year - China's first in nine years - to help cool things down.

Everything is state-owned in China, inspiring one media agency head to comment that the country's reigning media guru is the Chinese Government.

The government holds the purse-strings, so it decides which TV channels should be launched and when. It also fixes the going rate for a 30-second TV spot as well as determining how much money should be spent on both local and national TV.

There is little in the way of competition. The majority of Chinese provinces - which are the size of countries - are still rural and can receive only the state broadcaster, CCTV. In the cities and particularly Beijing, however, new US-style malls symbolise China's steady Westernisation.

The influence of the state has not dissuaded agencies and media owners from seeking out opportunities. This year, Vogue plans to hit newsstands, following Maxim, FHM and Elle Decoration, all of which launched in 2004.

In business publishing, the FT has established a Mandarin website and Newsweek launched a monthly title, Newsweek Select. Political coverage has to be carefully edited.

The government has made it easier for foreign media companies to launch in China. Time Warner and News Corp both broadcast in the country, albeit with limited distribution. The quandary facing many media owners and agencies is which route is the best to market. Until recently, a joint venture was realistically the only option. But now it's possible to go it alone, though that risks being a more intimidating prospect in such a massive and culturally alien country.

China is delighted to be hosting the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Indeed, the city was so enthusiastic that it was ordered to take its foot off the pedal: in early summer 2004, its plans for 2008 were more advanced than Greece's for that summer's Athens Olympics.


USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= Rmb 8.28 *Estimated

Total Newspapers Magazines TV Radio Other

1992 595 196 21 248 24 106

1993 1,062 456 22 356 42 186

1994 1,567 611 48 541 60 307

1995 2,007 781 46 785 89 306

1996 2,535 939 68 1,097 105 327

1997 3,236 1,170 64 1,382 128 492

1998 3,718 1,261 86 1,639 161 571

1999 4,159 1,357 108 1,887 151 656

2000 4,771 1,770 137 2,041 190 634

2001 5,122 1,905 143 2,167 221 685

2002 6,339 2,277 184 2,791 265 822

2003 7,658 2,936 295 3,081 309 1,037

2004 9,036 3,670 412 3,389 386 1,179

2005* 10,494 4,404 536 3,728 483 1,343

2006* 12,223 5,285 697 4,101 603 1,536

2007* 14,222 6,342 906 4,511 724 1,739


1) Excludes agency income, which comprises regular commission and income

from programme syndication, sports sponsorship, event marketing,

industry training and other sources

2) Excludes production costs

3) Includes classified advertising

4) Before discounts



Newspaper: Cankao Xiaoxi (daily, 2,670,000)

Business magazine: Securities Market Weekly (weekly, 1,200,000)

Consumer magazine: Family (fortnightly, 4,200,000)

Most-watched TV programme (2003): Spring Festival Evening 2003

Best new TV format: The Wedding Race (reality show)


Circulation: General Administration of Press and Publication, State,

Council; Global China Group Holdings Ltd

Readership: Central Viewer Survey & Consulting; Institution of Public

Opinion Polls, Renmin University; Horizon Market Research Co

TV viewing CSM


Newspapers: Guangzhou Daily

Magazines: Trends Cosmopolitan

Television: CCTV (public)


Media topic du jour - The economy, especially the car market, property prices and how much more investment a media group can get by listing on the stock market.

Reigning media guru and why - Lee Rui Gang, CEO, Shanghai Media Group. SMG, the second-largest group in China, controls more than 60 per cent of the media in Shanghai and East China, including 15 newspapers, 16 TV channels and four radio stations.

Media mogul to be seen dining with and why - Hung Huang, the publisher of iLook, Seventeen and Time Out Beijing & Shanghai. A writer and TV producer, she is dubbed "the Oprah Winfrey of China". Her witty and carefree style is famous on Beijing's social scene.

Car to drive - An Audi A6 with smoked windows and driver. This car says: "I'm somebody, but I'm not taking monstrous bribes."

Top-selling beer brand - Tsingtao.

Phone to carry - Nokia has been the best-selling brand for six years.

Whatever you do, don't say ... "I'm a Falun Gong member."