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China 15 July 2005

Ban on electronic media partnerships with foreign press

A ban on partnerships between Chinese electronic media and foreign media groups, introduced on 13 July, "jams the brakes on liberalisation initiatives begun last year and once again shows that the Chinese government is bent on keeping the press firmly under its yoke," Reporters Without Borders said today

The new regulation, drawn up by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and posted on its website, says radio and TV companies are not allowed to rent their channels to foreign companies, co-operate with them on joint projects, or launch joint-venture radio and television programmes or live broadcasts.

The launching of dozens of new electronic media companies in China offered a promising market in which foreign news media such as Viacom, Sony Pictures and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation have been scrambling to invest. Joint ventures and the broadcasting of foreign programmes were allowed last year without any change in the ban on foreign involvement in news programmes.

Concern about the foreign media’s growing influence in China had led the authorities to impose an initial restriction in March in which each foreign media group was limited to no more than one contract with a Chinese media company.

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