Chinese media giants turn to the iPhone

23 October 2009

BEIJING: A new application has been launched for Apple's iPhone allowing consumers to access content from some of China's biggest state-owned media companies, a move seen as reflecting the country's desire to promote itself more positively abroad.

The "app", Tantao, was developed by CNewsCo, a private firm which is owned by a group of American investors, and specialises in the provision of news and information from the world's most populous nation.

It will offer material from China Central Television, the state broadcaster, the Shanghai Media Group, the second-largest such conglomerate in the BRIC market, and Xinhua, the government's news agency.

A similar such tool has previously been made available for Research in Motion's BlackBerry, as media companies in the rapidly-growing economy seek to increase their digital presence.

Jack Fensterstock, CNewsCo's managing director for China, said "they want to spread their culture, values and history abroad, but they have been pretty bad at doing this" thus far.

In an effort to redress this trend, China Animation Partners, run by the same owners as CNewsCo, will also begin streaming Chinese films and TV shows, in English, on the web in the near future.

It hopes to derive advertising revenues from this venture, and will split the proceeds of any such activity with its content partners.

Xinhua already offers an online news service, including video, in English, while CCTV has started producing some programmes in Russian, French and Arabic.

As previously reported, the Chinese government recently outlined its plans to create media companies that are able to compete with global giants such as Time Warner.

However, Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp, argued at the World Media Summit held in Beijing last month that there are still significant obstacles which must be overcome in order to achieve this aim.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff