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China Media & Market Society

China Media & Market Society

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As the business of publishing and broadcasting expanded and moved away from direct state control since 1978, Chinese writers, editors and managers tested the limits of what content would be acceptable to the state, in many cases with the direct encouragement of political leaders.

There is little question that journalism has played an important role in opening up new fields of public discourse in China, despite the fact that it often had its wings clipped, particularly when it began to hone in on core contradictions in Chinese society.

It has been relatively easy for China’s ruling elite to argue that, to avoid the chaos that remains their biggest fear, limits must be placed on media coverage of political matters. However, it has become increasingly apparent that their most important objective – economic growth – cannot be achieved if investors and other economic actors, including the state, do not have access to reliable information. As a result, economic reporting is where a great deal of China’s most daring investigative journalism is practiced.

For these reasons the National Committee on United States-China Relations chose to follow up its path-breaking 1998 conference on “U.S. Media Coverage of China” with a meeting in China to explore the role of the media in market economies. This publication is a report of that meeting.
As the business of publishing and broadcasting expanded and moved away from direct state control since 1978, Chinese writers, editors and managers tested the limits of what content would be acceptable to the state, in many cases with the direct encouragement of political leaders.

There is little question that journalism has played an important role in opening up new fields of public discourse in China, despite the fact that it often had its wings clipped, particularly when it began to hone in on core contradictions in Chinese society.

It has been relatively easy for China’s ruling elite to argue that, to avoid the chaos that remains their biggest fear, limits must be placed on media coverage of political matters. However, it has become increasingly apparent that their most important objective – economic growth – cannot be achieved if investors and other economic actors, including the state, do not have access to reliable information. As a result, economic reporting is where a great deal of China’s most daring investigative journalism is practiced.

For these reasons the National Committee on United States-China Relations chose to follow up its path-breaking 1998 conference on “U.S. Media Coverage of China” with a meeting in China to explore the role of the media in market economies. This publication is a report of that meeting.

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10/18/2011

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THE ROLE OF THE MEDIAIN A MARKET ECONOMYby Robert L. KeatleyTable of Contents
Preface iExecutive Summary 1Conference Report 5AppendicesConference Participants 23 National Committee Publications 25i
PREFACE
The tremendous entrepreneurial forces that were untethered by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms have, in addition to quintupling China’sGDP, created extraordinary growth in the publishing and broadcastingindustries. In 1978 China published 14,987 books; 20 years later the number was 130,613, a little more than twice that of the UnitedStates. Similarly exponential growth took place for magazines – 
© 2008 NCUSCR • 71 West 23rd Street, Suite 1901 • New York, NY 10010-4102 • (212) 645-9677 • www.ncuscr.org
 
930 to 7,999 – and newspapers – 186 to 1,035 over the same period.By comparison, the United States published 14,707 magazines in1999 and 1,489 newspapers in 1998.This publishing explosion was mirrored in China’s broadcastingindustry as well. In 1978 China had only 32 television stations andabout 70 radio stations. By 1998, there were 3,240 television stationsand 673 radio stations competing for the eyes and ears of the world’slargest audience.As the business of publishing and broadcasting expanded andmoved away from direct state control, writers, editors and managerstested the limits of what content would be acceptable to the state,in many cases with the direct encouragement of political leaders.There is little question that journalism has played an important rolein opening up new fields of public discourse in China, despite thefact that it often had its wings clipped, particularly when it began tohone in on core contradictions in Chinese society.It has been relatively easy for China’s ruling elite to argue that,to avoid the chaos that remains their biggest fear, limits must be placed on media coverage of political matters. However, it has become increasingly apparent that their most important objective – 
© 2008 NCUSCR • 71 West 23rd Street, Suite 1901 • New York, NY 10010-4102 • (212) 645-9677 • www.ncuscr.org
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economic growth – cannot be achieved if investors and other economic actors, including the state, do not have access to reliableinformation. As a result, economic reporting is where a great dealof China’s most daring investigative journalism is practiced.For these reasons the National Committee on United States-China Relations chose to follow up its path-breaking 1998 conferenceon “U.S. Media Coverage of China” with a meeting in China toexplore the role of the media in market economies. This publicationis a report of that meeting. I would like to take this opportunity tothank its author, veteran Asia hand Robert L. Keatley, for the fine job he has done. I would also like to thank Professor Li Xiguang,director of the Center for International Communications Studies of Tsinghua University, who was our collaborator and host in Beijing.A great deal of the conference’s success is due to the contributionsof the conference participants themselves. Readers will find all of their names listed on pages 23 and 24.Here I wish to thank individually the talented Americandelegation that, in addition to Mr. Keatley, included Mr. Peter Ennis,Ms. Sheridan T. Prasso, Professor Martha Steffens and Mr.Christopher Ullman. I also would like to thank Dr. Christian Murck,who delivered the conference’s keynote address, and my colleagueAnne Phelan, who did a superb job of organizing the program and
© 2008 NCUSCR • 71 West 23rd Street, Suite 1901 • New York, NY 10010-4102 • (212) 645-9677 •www.ncuscr.org
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