China Restructures Regulators of Cultural Products

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中国重组文化产物管理层

//董乐铄,2011至2012访问学者,研究中国文化产物管理层的变化,并讨论中国对中国媒体的设想。

在最近纽约时报一篇关于中国审查制度的文章,中国作者余华写道:“一部小说可能畅销了20年,可是根据这部小说改编的电影却被禁了20年。”当中国国务院和新闻出版总署和国家广播电视总局合并后,这个现象可能不会再发生。

新闻出版总署是中国管理纸质和网络发行出版信息的机构。这个机构也负责检查和管理期刊和书籍的发行许可权。国家广播电视总局国务院直属下属机构,涉入电视,广播和电影业。之前,两个机构都负责相关文化产业的审查。这个新的机构的名字仍在讨论之中,它将负责计划和指导出版业,印刷和网络业,广播电视和电影的发展。

媒体公司希望新的机构可以起到推动行业创新的角色。但是,也有考虑说集权会导致对于全国文化产物更严厉的控制。这次合并也产生对于中国媒体将会更好地在信息时代竞争的期望。中国在十年内一直迫切地期望建立一个更加现代化的传播系统。自2003年开始,一个系统化的文化改革开始实施,并开始以数百家印刷机构和媒体为市场。当改革步伐开始加速,中国媒体开始面临因为信息技术快速变革而产生的挑战。作为回应,强有力的媒体为了适合改革的需要,将新媒体和传统的媒体合并。比如说,新华社,一个建立了全面新闻服务的新闻媒体现在拥有报纸,杂志,电视,网站和其他媒体形式。

当人们可能需要通过不同部门来取得一张许可或将产品最终送入市场时,这样的权利统一可能会导致决策的不便利。当考虑到和媒体市场竞争,信息需要在减少阻碍的情况下更快的传递时,这可能会是一个大的问题。相反的,新闻出版总署和国家广播电视总局的合并相信可以促进资源之间的协调,增强机构之间的效率,为国家媒体和文化业提供便利条件。

重组的机构仍然在解决一些问题,例如多渠道的管理和双许可,特别是和网络管理有关的事项。当文化部和信息部仍在指导中国网络时,机构重组就显得特别困难。后者主要控制中国网络的基础设施;而前者更关注内容是否适合大众。另外,中共宣传部和国务院信息办公室维持他们对于网络信息的过滤标准,不管此信息是文字还是视频。因此,很难考虑在其他部门的基础上这个新的机构将扮演什么角色。

这个新的管理部门将控制全世界五分之一人口接触的所有文化产物,很多中国内外机构对重组如何影响中国媒体内容和文化产物很感兴趣。这个新的机构很可能将在全世界的关注下面临就如何运营这一问题的严峻监视。

// 董乐铄,2011-2012年访问学者

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//Leshuo Dong, a 2011-2012 visiting scholar, analyzes changes in the administrative bodies regulating cultural production in China and discusses the potential implication on the Chinese media sphere.

In a recent New York Times article about Censorship in China, Chinese author Yu Hua wrote, “A film might be banned for 20 years, while the novel on which it is based sells briskly throughout that same period.” This may no longer happen, however, since the Chinese State Council is merging the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT).

GAPP is the administrative body responsible for regulating the distribution of news in both print and digital publications in China. The organization is also responsible for examining and approving publication licenses for periodicals and books. SARFT is an executive branch under the State Council that directly controls state- owned enterprises engaged in the television, radio, and film industry. Previously, both administrations were responsible for censoring the culture products that fell under their respective jurisdiction. While the name of the new state administration is still under discussion, it will be responsible for planning and supervising the development of the press, print and digital publications, and the radio, film, and television industries.

Media companies hope that the new authority will play a role in boosting the industry by spurring innovation. However, there are also concerns that centralizing power will lead to tighter control over the culture products that are circulating across the country. The merger also brings high expectations that the Chinese media will be better positioned to compete in the information age. China has been eager to establish a more modern communication system for over a decade. A systematic cultural reform has been carried out since 2003, which started with the marketization of hundreds of publishing houses and media groups. While the pace of reform has been accelerating, the media in China is facing rising challenges due to rapid changes in digital information technologies. In response, powerful media groups, able to integrate new media with traditional media to meet the challenges, have emerged.  For example, Xinhua, a news agency that developed into a comprehensive news service now owns newspapers, magazines, TV stations, websites and other media outlets.

This consolidation of power can lead to cumbersome decision-making, since individuals may now have to go through different administrations to get a license or get their products into market. This could be a significant problem considering that in order to compete in the media sphere, information needs to move faster than ever before and with less barriers. Conversely, the merging of GAPP and SARFT is believed to be conducive in coordinating the resources of each sector and increasing institutional efficiency, which would ideally benefitting the country’s media and culture industries.

The restructured organization is still trying to solve problems like multi-channel management and dual licensing, particularly as it relates to the Internet regulation. This is especially difficult since the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are still supervising China’s Internet. The latter mainly controls China’s Internet infrastructure facilities while the former looks into content that they think is not suitable for the public to access. In addition, the Communist Party’s Publicity Department and the State Council Information Office maintain their standing on filtering content on Internet, whether it’s text or video.  Therefore, it is unclear what role the new consolidated body will play with these other ministries.

Since the new regulator will soon control almost all of the culture products that will reach one fifth of the world’s population, many actors inside and outside the China are interested in how the restructuring will influence the media content and cultural products produced in China. The new administration will likely face intense scrutiny as the world watches to see how it will operate.

//Leshuo Dong, Visiting Scholar 2011- 2012

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