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The Chinese Constitution guarantees citizens' freedom of speech and information. With economic development, the media tends to become more diversified. According to statistics, there are over 2,000 newspapers, over 8,000 magazines, 311 radio stations and 358 TV stations in China. By the end of 2001, there were 770 medium- and short-wave radio transmitting and relay stations, and 88.03 million households with access to cable television, covering 92.9 and 94.1 percent of the population, respectively. Radio and TV now extend their reach through multiple transmission, including satellites, and wireless and wired systems.

China has two news agencies -- Xinhua (New China) News Agency and China News Service. Xinhua is the nation's official news agency, with its head office in Beijing. Its major task is to collect and distribute important news and information concerning politics, economy and culture in both China and the rest of the world. Xinhua News Agency has become one of the major international news agencies in the world, with over 100 branch offices in the Asian-Pacific region, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and other regions. It has signed contracts with over 80 foreign news agencies and political comment and news departments for exchanging news and news photos.

With its head office also in Beijing, China News Service mainly supplies news to overseas Chinese, foreign citizens of Chinese origin, and compatriots in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region, and Taiwan.

From 1950 to 2000, the number of newspapers increased by approximately 11 times, which enabled China to rank among the world's most advanced countries in this respect. Aiming at various groups of readers, the formats of newspapers are becoming more and more rich and colorful, including daily, evening, morning, noon and weekly newspapers. Farmers, workers, enterprises and professional people are all catered for. Of these newspapers, some focus on transmitting economic, scientific and technological information, and some aim at satisfying cultural and entertainment needs. Special newspapers offering various types of information and advertisements have appeared in great numbers, some of them being free of charge. This is a new phenomenon in recent years.

The Central People's Broadcasting Station (CPBS), the nation's official radio station, has seven channels, and broadcasts for a total of over 100 hours per day. Every province, autonomous region and municipality have local broadcasting stations, which relay some programs from the CPBS and programs with local characteristics. The programs of China Radio International (CRI) are now beamed to all parts of the world in 38 foreign languages, standard Chinese and four Chinese dialects. Besides news programs, there are over 400 special programs. Currently, CRI ranks third in overseas broadcasting time and languages in the world.

China's television industry entered a golden age, beginning in the 1980s. Thereafter, for approximately 10 years the television viewing population increased by 61 million every year. China Central Television (CCTV) is the largest and most powerful national television station. At present, CCTV has established business relations with more than 250 television organizations in over 130 countries and regions.

CCTV and more than 3,000 other television stations nationwide in various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and the cities, districts and counties under their jurisdictions, as well as the satellite and ground network systems constitute the largest television network in the world. Besides appraisal and giving awards, the annual Shanghai Television Festival also conducts academic television exchanges and the import and export of television programs, and holds international exhibitions and technology exchanges. Shanghai has become the largest television program trading market in Asia.

Since the mid-1990s, a "fourth medium" -- internet news medium industry -- has been in operation, which depends on traditional media while being different from them. Quite a number of famous websites have taken shape, which operate according to the process of regular news media and are able to create strong public opinion rapidly on the Internet with their news reports. Some large-scale traditional media are constantly reconstructing their websites to adjust themselves to the operation law of the "fourth medium." Over 700 traditional media countrywide have set up their websites with independent domain names. Experts predict that, in the 10 to 20 years to come, the influence of the "fourth medium" may become greater than that of periodicals, radio and TV. It is estimated that, by 2005, there will be as many as 40 million computers in China connected to the Internet, and 200 million users of data, multi-media and the Internet, with about 15 percent of the population having access to the internet.

FromChina -- 2002

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