Showbiz Sheet Scents Sino-Shekels Sockeroo

27 April 2004

Variety, the US-headquartered weekly showbiz bible famed for its snazzy -- if sometimes impenetrable -- headlines (Sticks Nix Hicks Pix, it famously wrote when a Hollywood rural movie nosedived at out-of-town box offices back in 1935), is set to storm China this June.

The Chinese language edition of the 99-year-old Hollywood film and entertainment publication will be its first in a foreign language. And Variety's owner, London-headquartered Reed Business Information, plans to launch a further ten titles in the People's Republic by the end of this year.

RBI believes the market will yield it around $100 million (€84.25m; £55.96m) in revenues. Says RBI chief executive Gerard van de Aast: "Let me put it this way, our goals are very ambitious. The Chinese market as a market is going to grow and to develop very rapidly [and] it's definitely a market that we want to be part of."

But the Chinese government is well aware that that RBI and other Western media tigers are emphatically not of the paper variety. It requires that all foreign forays into its media hinterland are in partnership with government agencies.

Variety China has received the green light from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television in return for making that body a shareholder in the venture with supervisory powers. Variety, however, insists that control of content "is entirely in our hands".

Mention of a Hidden Dragon is conspicuous by its absence.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff