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Press merger could open new door

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-15 07:21

The two main press groups in Shanghai, the birthplace of China's newspaper industry, are to merge, in a move that experts predict will produce new products in digital media.

Shanghai Newspaper Group is to be formed from the merger of Jiefang Daily Group and Wenhui-Xinmin United Press Group, according to Zhu Changyuan, director of the distribution center for Jiefang Daily Group.

While news of the merger has not been officially announced by either media group, strong indications were given by the Shanghai Party committee, which published a list of the future company's managers on Monday.

Qiu Xin, CEO of Shanghai Media Group, which owns dozens of TV channels, will take charge of the new group, according to a report by caixin.com.

Qiu said in an interview with China Broadcast in June that traditional media must innovate or die.

Some experts said the consolidation of the two media giants will create a powerful alliance with integrated resources, economic strength, a wide range of talent and a high degree of specialization.

The two groups occupy almost the entire print media market in Shanghai.

Wenhui-Xinmin United Press Group owns 17 newspapers and journals, including Xinmin Evening News, the first evening newspaper on the Chinese mainland, which started publishing in 1929.

Jiefang Daily Group owns 12 newspapers and journals, including Jiefang Daily, which was launched in 1941, and was once the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Some journalists from Xinmin Evening News said that some of the newspapers might be liquidated after the merger.

Experts said the merger will result in new media products based on digital technologies.

"The Shanghai authority has always wanted to create a powerful website like taobao.com or qq.com based in the municipality. The media are constantly upgrading and the Shanghai government wants to seize the opportunity," said Yu Guoming, a journalism professor at Renmin University of China.

"It's wise to start from the newspaper industry, which is shrinking but is still far from suffering a crisis in Shanghai," he said.

A semi-annual report from Xinhua Media, which is affiliated with Jiefang Daily Group, showed the company's gross profit fell by 37 percent in the first six months of this year, but the operating revenue stood at 812 million yuan ($133 million), a 0.23 percent decline from the same period last year.

Although no more mergers or acquisitions are expected in other parts of the country in the near future, experts believe the global trend of bringing the newspaper industry into the digital age is irreversible.

"In the United States, some of the print media have completely abandoned the paper format and switched to online platforms, while some have gone out of business," said Cheng Manli, a media professor at Peking University.

"The readers, especially the young ones, prefer news on the Internet because of both the content and the medium," she said.

zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

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