Broadcast and press watchdogs to merge into super ministry, official says

But no plans for a 'super ministry of culture' as Beijing moves to streamline sectors

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 5:01am

The central government is set to create a "super broadcast and press ministry" by merging the nation's broadcast watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) in a scaled-back streamlining plan.

Huang Shuyuan , the president of the GAPP-administered People's Publish Housing, said a merger between GAPP and Sarft was likely, although the decision would not be finalised until the end of the annual session of the National People's Congress.

Huang, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the merger would lead to deregulation in areas such as licensing.

Streamlining of the broadcast and press sectors is part of a push by the Communist Party to create some "super ministries" to cut red tape. Another proposal would see the scandal-plagued Ministry of Railways merged into the Ministry of Transport.

However, the push appears to stop short of creating a "super ministry of culture", which would have entailed merging GAPP and Sarft into the current Ministry of Culture.

Culture Minister Cai Wu said this week he had not been informed about plans for a super culture ministry and had not been asked to prepare such a merger. GAPP president Liu Binjie said the conditions for a super culture ministry were "not ripe".

Yan Yu, director of the Government Management and Industry Development Research Institute at Peking University, said Beijing preferred to merge GAPP and Sarft instead of creating a super ministry due to functional differences.

"The current Ministry of Culture is an institution overseeing culture-related services to the public, while both GAPP and Sarft have the same role in the media, representing the voice of the administration," he said. "This could explain the watered-down version."

Yan said the creation of a super Ministry of Transport made better sense because both existing ministries oversaw public transportation.

Ge Jianxiong , a CPPCC delegate, said that deregulation by redefining the role of central government agencies was the key to the latest round of restructuring efforts.

He said efforts to streamline such agencies between 1982 and 2008 had seen their number cut from 52 to 27. But the efforts had proved to be a farce because more sub-ministerial-level agencies had popped up.

"It only works when the central government can keep its hands off matters rightly under the portfolios of regional governments and regional governments can refrain from messing with the market or trying to take over what NGOs can do better," Ge said.