This research paper examines the emergence of an advertising revenue gap between party and mass‐appeal newspapers in China, and analyses its political and economic antecedents. It finds that traditionally dominant communist party newspapers are falling increasingly far behind their mass‐appeal counterparts in advertising dollars. The revenue gap formed is common across different regions, consistent in timing, and invariant in scale. Based on longitudinal data, the analysis shows that a suitable explanation for the observed revenue polarization lies in the combined impact from advertising market maturity, shifts in government policy, and the changing media system and operating environment.
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