Since China began its reform and opening in the 1980's, business media magazines have risen steadily with the market economy. Of the almost 9,000 magazines currently published in China, almost 3,000 are by the business media. (Of these 3,000, more than 400 are business or finance books; around 2,400 focus on industry and commerce.) And now, since China kicked off 2007 by lifting government laws restricting the movement of foreign journalists within the country, it seems everyone wants a piece.
Now the fourth largest economy in the world ($2.25 trillion in 2005), China has been growing exponentially since its entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001. Just yesterday, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group announced a partnership with Access China Media Solutions to distribute music downloads and other content to mobile phones. The initially British, than American, sensation, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” will make its Chinese debut shortly. (China Media Power has recently licensed rights to the show from Celador International.)
And now China’s exhibition industry is trucking quite happily down the path of growth, reportedly hosting more than 3,800 exhibitions in 2006 (up from 3,000 in 2004), according to a report by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade that was discussed at length during last week’s third annual China Expo Forum for International Cooperation in Shanghai.
ABM’s Claudia Flowers, who endured the long plane ride to Shanghai to moderate a panel in this year’s Forum (“Mergers & Acquisition: Reorganization and Venture Capital in the Exhibition Industry”… and I’ve seen some transcripts—it was more interesting than the title lets on, promise), says conversation focused on the need for China to initiate policies and national standards as well as develop administrative structures and self regulation to attract foreign investors to the country's exhibition industry.
The question is—will this interest in foreign investors and the new found freedom of the press draw even a moment’s breathe once next year’s summer Olympics in Beijing come to a close? On October 17, 2008, the old restrictions are expected to reemerge. And Asia Media’s Dan Bloom reports a bit of general skepticism, warning reporters and investors alike to “Expect some good official foot-dragging.” After all, with the world’s greatest PR-driven sporting event on its way, China is kind of forced to play nice, whether it wants to or not… and it may not.
However, during a recent Country Leadership Tour to Beijing, Tom Gorman of FORTUNE China noted that China is “conflicted in many parts of the media space. But with b-to-b it's really an open playing field... there are whole sectors of booming growth where there are virtually no b-to-b titles.” And that’s a blatantly phenomenal growth opportunity. Assuming the welcome mat remains sitting on China’s front stoop.
posted by Sara Sheadel