Between Corporate Development and Public Service: The Cultural System Reform in the Chinese Media Sector
Media, Culture and Society, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 25, 2014
If the cultural system reform in the 1980s and 1990s had been peripheral and sluggish, it has become a central part of China’s unswerving reform in the 21st century and noticeably gained velocity after 2008. Aiming to build up a cultural market economy, the reform is transforming the majority of cultural institutions into state-owned and even state-controlled shareholding corporations, while strengthening the public service obligation of state financing in a few non-profitable areas. By chronicling and contextualizing reform efforts, this paper not only documents some major lines of market development but also examines why and how the state is realigning its public and corporate sectors in such a particular mode of synthesis, especially in two leading media sectors, i.e., film and TV broadcasting. While Chinese communication scholars have documented how the overlap between the state and market forces creates dominant cultural processes in China, focusing on the state’s straightforward efforts of commercialization, this paper offers an updated understanding of verifiable policy and institutional changes — especially the "decommercialization" movement embodied by the return of public units.
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