Media in China

Talk radio in China allows a much freer exchange of views than other media formats. In effect, talk radio has

Media in China

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troversial, and high-quality investigative journalism.

Xinhua and many other Chinese media organizations produce reports for the "internal" journals. Informed observers note that journalists generally like to write for the internal publications typically, only the most senior or most capable print and broadcast reporters are given such opportunities because they can write less polemical and more comprehensive stories without having to omit unwelcome details as is commonly done in the print media directed to the general public. A Chinese historian has noted, as an example of such self-censorship, that only a minority of China's population are aware 30 million people starved to death in the early 1960s, because the Party has never allowed the subject to be openly explored in the media.

The Chinese Government's internal media publication system follows a strict hierarchical pattern designed to facilitate party control. A publication called Reference Information (Cankao Ziliao) which includes translated articles from abroad as well as news and commentary by senior Xinhua reporters is delivered by Xinhua personnel, rather than by the national mail system, to officials at the working level and above. A three-to-ten-page report called Internal Reference (Neibu Cankao) is distributed to officials at the ministerial level and higher. The most highly classified Xinhua internal reports, known as "redhead reference" (Hong Tou Cankao) reports, are issued occasionally to the top dozen or so party and government officials.

There are signs the internal publication system is breaking down as more information becomes widely available in China. A Hong Kong-based political journal circulated on the Chinese mainland has questioned the need for such a system in light of China's modern telecommunications and expanding contacts with the outside world. Internal publications are becoming less exclusive; some are now being sold illegally on the street and are increasingly available to anyone with money.

Some of the internal publications have changed substantially in an effort to avoid becoming obsolete. For example, the publication News Front started in 1957 as a weekly tool for the Communist Party to instruct journalists on what to write no longer was limited to that function when it reappeared after the Cultural Revolution. It continued to change gradually and is now a monthly publication that serves as a professional rather than political guide for journalists.

 

MARKET COMPETITION

 

Intense competition for the media market is among the most important factors behind the emergence of more diverse and autonomous media in China. As indicated earlier in this study, efforts by the Chinese media to respond to an increasingly demanding print and broadcast market have created an expanding spectrum of media products ranging from serious news journalism to purely entertainment stories. Monetary rewards for meeting such demands continue to grow, resulting in greater financial autonomy for Commercialization thus has been a major liberating force for the media in China. The regime is far less able than before to wield financial leverage over the media, which have increasingly become self-supporting through advertising revenues and circulation. According to one estimate, advertising in all media forms increased 35-fold between 1981 and 1992. Print ad revenues jumped ten times between 1990 and 1995 from 1.5 billion yuan to 15 billion yuan.

Television revenues also are growing dramatically: they totaled about $2 billion in 1995 and are expected to rise above $6 billion by 2005. In 1995, China Central Television earned nearly $150 million in advertising revenue, covering almost 90 percent of its total costs. In the past, Chinese radio and television tended to run well behind the print press in their news coverage. More recently, television has come under market pressure to be as timely, informative, and responsive as the print media.

Competition from outside mainland China has further impelled domestic media organizations to become more diverse, assertive, and skeptical of official authority. For example, in order to compete against higher quality Hong Kong radio stations that could be heard in Guangdong Province, Guangdong radio managers created Pearl River Economic Radio (PRER) in 1986. PRER, copying Hong Kong radio's approach, began to emphasize daily life, entertainment, "celebrity" deejays, and caller phone-in segments, while eliminating ideological, preachy formats that included little information beyond what was provided by government sources. By 1987, PRER had obtained 55 percent of the Guangdong market; previously, Hong Kong radio stations had held 90 percent of this market. Local party cadre in southern China reportedly are unhappy about PRER, mainly because some of the station's commentators, as well as its talk radio programs, highlight party failures and the misdeeds of individual party members in the region.

The top national Chinese Communist Party papers (People's Daily, Guangming Daily, and Economic Daily) which mostly feature party speeches, announcements, propaganda, and policy viewpoints are steadily losing circulation and much-sought advertising revenues to evening municipal papers that have far more diverse content. For example, People's Daily's circulation fell from 3.1 million copies a day in 1990 to 2.2 million in 1995; the paper's 1994 advertising revenues were down as well. Moreover, its subscriptions consist overwhelmingly of mandatory ones by party and government organizations. Similarly, the Liberation Army Daily has become almost entirely dependent on State subsidies. Its circulation has fallen from 1.7 million in 1981 to fewer than 500,000 at present.

By contrast, the circulation of the Xinmin Evening News, operated by the Shanghai Municipal Government, has risen from 1.3 million to 1.7 million over the same time period. The Guangzhou Daily, owned by the Guangzhou Municipal Government, doubled its circulation in six years to 600,000 in 1994, and its ad revenues also were up.

 

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

 

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/

2. http://www.xinhua.com/

3. http://sun.sino.uni-heidelberg.de/

4. http://www.syol.ynet.com/

5. http:// www.sohu.com/

6. http://web.info.com/

7. http://www.chinaview.cn

8. http://www.chinanews.com

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