People's Daily Online may be first website to get domestic listing
The People's Daily online news portal, people.com.cn, may become the first domestically listed state-owned Web news organisation.
Reuters reported yesterday that it would be listed in Shanghai as early as June, quoting a person familiar with the matter. The person said: 'It'll be in June, probably June 20 because that's the date when the company was established last year.'
'The company' refers to People's Daily Online, which operates the online version of the Communist Party's mouthpiece. When it was set up, Zhang Yannong, the president of the paper, said the website might be listed at the end of last year or at the beginning of this year.
The State Council Information Office began pushing the websites of official news outlets to launch initial public offerings in September 2009, lining up 10 of them for listing.
Professor Cui Baoguo, vice-dean of Tsinghua University's School of Journalism and Communication, believed the listing of state-run news websites would make them operate more in line with market rules. 'Overall it is a good thing, though there are many problems, too.'
Professor Qiao Mu, director of Beijing Foreign Studies University's International Communication Research Centre, said official portals were not cash-strapped and raising funds was not the main consideration. 'Beijing wants state media to get some [market] experience, and improve their management.'
Beijing said subsidies for government-backed websites would be offered for five years after they went public to ensure smooth transition.
The People's Daily now holds 80 per cent of the website while The Global Times, a subsidiary newspaper, holds 15 per cent.
Qiao also said the portals needed to diversify their business for higher profits. 'They all rely on advertising. They should expand value-added services like video-sharing, news delivery on mobile phones, etc.'
Seeing the potential after Google redirected users from the mainland to its uncensored Hong Kong search engine, the People's Daily launched goso.cn search engine in December.