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Propaganda chief reasserts control

AP, in South China Morning Post, Saturday 31 March 2001

Chinese media must remain the mouthpiece of the Communist Party regardless of market changes, propaganda chief Ding Guangen was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Media can compete for readers in an expanding market but the state must maintain primary ownership and control content, the Beijing Youth Daily quoted Mr Ding as saying.

No matter what, their nature as mouthpiece of the party and the people cannot change, the paper quoted Ding as saying.

Mr Ding's reassertion of the party's media monopoly came during a visit to the Beijing Youth Daily, one of a new class of commercial newspapers drawing readers away from stolid ideological vehicles such as the party's flagship People's Daily.

While offering colorful layout and more lively crime, sports and economic stories, the Beijing Youth Daily and like-minded competitors hew carefully to the government line on political and social matters.

Media must adhere to the party's basic line, serve the people, socialism, and serve the work of the nation and party, Mr Ding was quoted as saying during his visit.

Reforms must take account of our country's national characteristics and fully consider the special needs of ideological work, he said.

Party propaganda officials dictate content and squelch reporting of sensitive political and social issues in the mainland's 2,000 newspapers, 1,800 television stations and 300 radio stations.

Last year, Mr Ding ordered the media to be in strict agreement with the party line on issues such as the campaign against the Falun Gong spiritual movement and attitudes toward Taiwan and the United States.

Though media remain mostly docile, the government has not hesitated to rein in those testing the limits.