China Puts Straitjacket on Foreign Media Investment

15 April 2005

Trade with the People's Republic of China is not the bidirectional freeway western media moguls had hoped when Beijing recently relaxed its media ownership rules, allowing for the first time foreign investment in joint venture television, radio and film production companies.

In the light of new government regulations unveiled this week, the trading traffic flow appears to be primarily in a westbound direction.

This unpalatable fact of life was underscored in politically appropriate red by restrictions that strictly limit investment in local projects by foreign media companies.

The likes of NewsCorp, Viacom and Sony, having previously envisaged an expansionist free-for-all, now learn they will be limited to one programme production venture each.

This means the foreign media giants cannot set up their planned chains of joint ventures straddling the vast nation - which has 300 million TV households and a fragmented and locally protected media industry. To say nothing of a $23.3 billion (€18.04bn; £12.31bn) advertising market.

This Chinese puzzle was confirmed by local media executives and party officials. The Klondyke mindset of western multinational corporations has received a sharp reminder they are trading with a regulated communist economy - and one that seems to have outsmarted occidental capitalism.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff