China To Ban All Privately-funded News Organizations?

By Alistair Baker-Brian, October 18, 2021

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From October 8 until October 14, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) solicited public opinion for the Market Access Negative List 2021. 

As part of the list, the NDRC made a number of proposals which would effectively ban privately-funded companies from funding and or running news organizations. 

Six noteworthy proposals are as follows: 

  • Non-public capital must not engage in news gathering, editing or broadcasting

  • Non-public capital must not invest in the establishment and operation of news organizations including but not necessarily limited to news agencies, newspaper publishing units, radio and television broadcasting, radio and television stations, internet news information collection, editing and publishing organizations, etc. 

  • Non-public capital must not engage in news organization operations

  • Non-public capital must not conduct livestream-broadcasting related to politics, economics, defense, foreign affairs, society, culture, science and technology, health, education, sport and other areas related to politics or public opinion

  • Non-public capital must not broadcast news produced by foreign entities 

  • Non-public capital must not hold forum summits or awards ceremonies related to news or public opinion

Wang Sixin, professor of law at Communications University of China, said that the measures were about professionalizing news reporting, telling Global Times, “you must be qualified to publish news, just like if you are not a doctor, then you cannot treat patients.”

Fang Kecheng, assistant professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the measures have in fact been in place since 2005. However, the implementation of said measures has been “selective,” he told South China Morning Post.

The move comes as China seeks to tighten control over the private sector in a number of industries.

Newly-introduced measures related to education effectively ban for-profit after-school tutoring in core subjects. Many of China’s after-school training centers have already closed as a result. 

In addition to reducing the academic and financial burden on children and parents, respectively, the government says the new measures will help ensure education is not “controlled by capital.”

READ MORE: China's After-School Training Centers are Struggling to Survive

Moreover, stocks of Chinese tech giant Tencent fell after state-media described some of the company’s products as “electronic drugs.” Measures have since been introduced which limit the amount of time under-18s can play online video games. 

READ MORE: China's Youth Gamers Limited to 1 Hour Per Day

The latest proposals are yet to be implemented. The scale and impact of such measures is, therefore, unknown as of press time.

[Cover image via Pexels]

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