BEIJING: The Chinese government is looking to establish "about six or seven" newspaper and publishing companies that are capable of competing on the global stage, according to the country's General Administration of Press and Publication.

While China is home to an increasing number of powerful brands, few of these operate in the tightly-controlled traditional media sector, and many may find it challenging to expand outside the country.

Fan Weiping, director of the GAPP's publishing unit, says that "six or seven press and publishing giants with annual revenues of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5bn; €1.1bn; £992m) will be set up to compete globally in three to five years."

A new policy document issued by the GAPP focuses on making the press and publishing sectors in the country more commercial, and also on strengthening the position of smaller companies.

This will be achieved by encouraging both "major state-owned businesses" and "non-state-owned capital" to invest in the publishing and media sectors.

It is also hoped that press and publishing companies will float publicly, and establish operations outside of China, which could take the form of joint ventures.

At the end of 2007, it was estimated that there were almost 600 publishers in China producing around 9,500 magazines and 2,000 newspapers.

Zhou Weihua, of the school of journalism at Renmin University, argues that the new guidelines will "serve as an impetus for the development of the press and publication sector."

He also argues that the top 20 publishers in China currently have a market share of around 20%, compared with a share of over 80% among this elite group in the US.

Data sourced from Reuters/China News Daily; additional content from WARC staff