Beijing yesterday set up its largest state-run media conglomerate, which aims to compete with global players slowly being allowed into the mainland market. China Radio, Film and Television Group (CRFTG) was formed yesterday to hold all state-run media assets held by the regulator, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft). The move would allow Sarft to concentrate on regulation rather than business, in line with Beijing's call for the separation of government and business functions. The new media holding company will gather Sarft's assets - including China Central Television (CCTV), China National Radio, China Radio International, China Film Group, China Radio and Television Transmission Network, China Radio and Television Website - under one roof. It is chaired by Xu Guangchun, deputy director of the Communist Party's propaganda department and a Sarft director. With more than 20,000 employees, the group holds fixed assets valued at 21.4 billion yuan (about HK$20.05 billion) and has annual revenues of about 11 billion yuan. 'We are owned by the government but run like a company, under the direct leadership of the propaganda deparment,' a company official said. 'It will take about two years to put all our assets in order.' The company, which will be run on a semi-commercial basis, has a sweeping scale of business, from programme production to publications and the export of CCTV programmes as well as arts performances, advertising and properties. 'This is China's answer to AOL Time Warner and News Corp,' said one Western media analyst in Beijing. 'China already has intense competition in the print media and competition in broadcast media is growing, with foreign players now entering the market. 'China has long sought to create conglomerates that can grow into global players. This is the first of them.' The company is a national version of models established in Shanghai and Beijing which have set up such broadcasting firms. The firm is part of Beijing's attempt to bring order to its chaotic media market, which has grown at an astonishing rate over the past five years, with a proliferation of cable and satellite stations, Internet services and rapid growth in fixed-line and mobile telephony, regulated by different arms of the government, often at war with each other. The Ministry of Information Industry and Sarft are bitter rivals, both wanting more control over the booming sectors. One is cable television, with more than 2,000 stations which have more than 200 million subscribers and want to offer telecommunications services to clients but have been banned by law. Earlier this year, Premier Zhu Rongji set up the Office for the Information Industry, naming himself as chairman, aiming to control turf battles and turning it into a mainland version of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States. According to the Financial Daily, CRFTG will try to take over the 2,000 cable stations but is likely to fail because they are under the control of local governments that will be unwilling to give them up. The analyst estimated the value of these stations at US$130 per subscriber. 'With 210 million subscribers, that means a value of more than US$27 billion. Where will the money come from for such a purchase?' he said, adding that since 1998, the government gradually had relaxed its view of the broadcasting industry, allowing increased diversity.