Beijing Hosts World Media Summit

In view of China’s past record regarding the media, there has been a mixed response to the fact that Beijing will be hosting the three-day World Media Summit with more than 170 global media outlets from over 80 countries being represented by approximately 300 delegates. The majority are of the opinion that this is a good sign and will pave the way to greater media freedom in the People’s Republic of China. Certainly, With China becoming increasingly prominent in the global economic playing field, calls for greater media freedom in the country have become more insistent from all quarters.

China’s President Hu Jintao has pledged to continue making government affairs available to the public through the enhancement of information distribution, as well as safeguarding the rights of foreign news organizations and foreign reporters. Foreign media coverage of China will be permitted in accordance with the laws and regulations governing these matters. News coverage of China has grown tremendously over the past few years, as the country has experienced an economic boom and become more prominent in global trade. Hu acknowledged that media coverage by foreign agencies has played a pivotal role in informing the world about the positive changes taking place in China.

Rupert Murdoch, Chief Executive of News Corp, which owns the Dow indices and publishes the Wall Street Journal, was quite straight-forward in pointing out that as China becomes more important to the global market, it would become more critical for it to embrace the digital era to maximize its opportunities. It was noted that Chinese media companies need to stamp out piracy if they were to generate profits at home and fuel international growth. Rupert is an advocate for paid-for content on websites and has been quoted as saying that “if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators…who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph.”

Other major figures attending the World Media Summit include Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley, Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger, and BBC Global News Director Richard Sambrook, as well as Head of Japan’s Kyodo News Agency Satishi Ishikawa. Topics for discussion will include both the opportunities and the challenges presented to the media by the internet, continually progressing technology and the global economic crisis.