President Xi Jinping called for the country to build a homegrown new media industry yesterday as he chaired the powerful central leading group for deepening reform.
The meeting came after the conclusion of the annual informal closed-door talks among Communist Party leaders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in Hebei , and ahead of a series of key events including the 110th birthday anniversary of late leader Deng Xiaoping and the party's fourth plenary session in October.
Xinhua reported that various other reform initiatives were discussed at yesterday's meeting, including regulating the pay of top executives at state-owned enterprises.
Xi also chaired a meeting of the leading group for financial and economic affairs yesterday, at which he called for a faster adjustment of the economic development pattern.
A report on promoting the integration of traditional and new media was approved at the reform group meeting, calling for measures to be taken to develop new media organisations that are "diversified", "advanced", and "competitive", Xinhua reported.
"Several new media groups that have strength, communication capacity, credibility and are influential should be established," Xi was quoted as saying.
Authorities have to "properly integrate and manage traditional and new media, ensuring the integration is heading in the right direction," Xi said.
New media is hugely popular in China. Nearly 400 million monthly active users were reported in the first quarter for the instant messaging platform WeChat, where more than 5.8 million content providers are disseminating information on its public accounts. Many journalists also use the platform.
The Shanghai United Media Group, which publishes the Dongfang Daily, last month launched The Paper, which is available online and through a mobile phone app and WeChat.
Hu Yong , a journalism professor at Peking University, expected the central government would give political and financial support for more new media platforms as the impact of traditional media dwindled.
Qiao Mu , an associate professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the impact of new media would be limited because authorities were tightening their grip over all platforms.
Earlier this month, the State Internet Information Office said only news agencies and news websites were authorised to publish original news content on instant messaging platforms.
"The authorities still want to maintain tight control over ideology. The promotion of new media will not lead to any real change in the nature of the media industry," Qiao said.
Additional reporting by Stephen Chen