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Print media reform involves 2000 newspapers, 9000 magazines
( 2003-11-27 21:27) (Xinhua)

The traditional system of China's state-owned newspaper management, which had remained almost untouched for decades, suddenly changed dramatically after a four-month endeavor to stop the mandatory subscription to Communist Party and government-run newspapers.

The fundamental reform involving over 2,000 Chinese newspapers and 9,000-plus magazines began this summer when state-owned Chinese print media, except science journals, were asked to suspend active recruitment of subscribers for the following year.

Last month, a work group to supervise the reform started a journey to 20 provincial areas, ensuring the implementation of the government's decision to stop compulsory subscription of newspapers and periodicals.

In less than five months, a total of 1,452 Party and government newspapers have been affected by the state newspaper reform, 673 of which have been suspended from publication, said Liu Yunshan, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

The reform is to weed out publications that yield no social or economic benefits and to relieve financial burdens on farmers and grass-roots enterprises, official sources claimed. Experts say the true aim of the reform is to open the Chinese press to competition.

Under the traditional system, Chinese newspapers and magazines,which were all state-owned media, were subsidized from CPC and government departments and demanded forced subscription.

Without mandatory subscription and government subsidies, many newspapers will not be able to survive in a competitive market, said Yu Guoming, a professor of media with the People's Universityof China.

The government has urged local departments to allocate jobs formedia staff left unemployed as the cuts bite, sources said.

Such reform will spur media workers to do their best, said Zhang Xinsong with the Economic Information Daily.

The press reform is not a complete surprise. Some publications have been preparing for such changes for a long time. Economic newspapers were among the first to assume sole responsibility for their financial viability.

Although newspapers in China's mainland are still state-owned, they have all become sensitive to the market and are completely responsible for their profits and losses, experts say.

Professor Yu said press reform will help the media to better supervise the government and safeguard social justice, which is also the reform aim of the government.

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