The Chinese press, instead of acting purely as a state propaganda instrument, now functions as 'Party Publicity Inc.' - that is, a quasi-business that seeks to make huge profits on the one hand and to legitimate the Party mandate by promoting its image on the other. The accelerated pace of media conglomeration following China's accession to the World Trade Organization has sharpened this trend. This study examines the impact of press ecology in Shenzhen, a national trend-setter for 'Party Publicity Inc.', before and after conglomeration. We observe that press conglomeration has (a) engendered a more centralized management structure and operation; (b) replaced duopolistic competition with market monopoly and greater price-fixing abilities; (c) continued to rely on state office subscription; (d) dampened journalists' enthusiasm for political reform in favor of economic interest; (e) developed a two-tier Publicity Inc. to serve both the Party and the market; and (f) provided an opportunity for overseas expansion. Marketization does not trigger political reform, but pre-empts pressure for political change. The Party Publicity Inc. in its conglomerate form represents a complicitous accommodation between power and money engineered by a post-Communist bureaucratic-authoritarian regime.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Bureaucratic-authoritarian state capitalism
- Market-driven journalism
- Media conglomeration
- Media in post-Communist China
- Party Publicity Inc.
- Party-state propaganda
- Political economy