Investing in China’s Media Market

With the news that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is selling its stakes in Chinese TV stations, the focus of attention for investing in China’s massive media market again concentrates on the joint venture as the only permissible route into the market. With a total readership of 1.4 billion, the stakes are high in China in terms of potential advertising revenues, yet the Chinese government is wary of letting foreign investors gain too much of an upper hand in terms of content. That conflict will always be won by the state, which has long erected barriers to foreign investment in the media industry.

In terms of domestic TV, foreign owned channels have only been permitted in Guangdong Province, and even there, players such as News Corp., Viacom and Time Warner have been restricted to market access – News Corp.’s revenues from China in total averaged about US$50 million per annum, against global revenues of US$32 billion – rather small return for such a major investor. Despite News Corp. wooing Beijing through political savvy (Murdoch infamously took the BBC off the China footprint after complaints from Beijing over content, and even married a Chinese national) such “patriotic” stances didn’t ultimately provide the business with the expected returns. Indeed, News Corp. return from China has been 1 percent of their total revenues, a damaging figure when compared to the senior executive time and effort spent on developing the China market, while their TV ratings in Guangdong only amounted to a 4 percent share.

To read the rest of this article, by Chris Devonshire-Ellis, visit the China news site,

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