by Li Shengqing, Feng Shuangqing, Liu Yuyang, You Zhengyi

China, a developing Asian country with the largest population in the world and a burgeoning market of enormous potential, comparing with Austria, a developed European country with a relatively smallish number of population and a high level of economic accomplishment, it seems these two nations have every aspect different from each other. So, when we take a close study of the media system between Austria and China, it’s no surprise at all that the differences overwhelm the similarities.

1. News agency: APA vs. Xinhua

Founded in 1849, APA was actually one of the world’s first news agencies, while Xinhua was founded nearly a century later in 1931. In terms of the scale, by the year 2013, APA has 574 employees and offices in all Austrian federal provinces and EU capital Brussels. Xinhua is in a much larger scale which has 15160 employees by the end of 2010 and 150 offices in all Chinese provinces except Taiwan and also branches in 120 countries. APA is owned by cooperative members while Xinhua is state owned, this difference in ownership directly influences their news products for APA is able to be independent however Xinhua is under the control of Chinese Communist Party. APA keeps profitable from providing various kinds of services for clients but on money received from the state however Xinhua is partly state funded. Both APA and Xinhua develop multi-media and new media products, and expend their business to data base and information solutions.

2. Television broadcasting: ORF vs. CCTV

As the Austrian Public Service Broadcaster, ORF neither belongs to any individual or the Austrian government. According to the ORF Act, “it (ORF) engages in activities under the public mandate, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation is a non-profit undertaking.” Owned by Austrian public, ORF’s income mainly comes from advertising revenue (a smaller part) and license fees from every household possess a TV set. In contrast, CCTV is a vice-ministerial level administrative institution in China, which means it’s essentially a state property. Both winning the highest audience share, ORF and CCTV resemble each other in terms of their position in domestic media market, but differ a lot from the international and global perspective. At present, CCTV owns a gigantic web of 30 free channels and 12 pay channels, as well as 10 channels broadcasting around the world, while ORF only holds ORF 2 Europe as unencrypted and receivable via satellite in Europe. ORF and CCTV both embrace market principles on the condition that they fulfill the fundamental role of public service or policy promotion, and both make attempt to extend new media service to win back young audience.

3. Newspaper

For general newspaper market, China is obviously much bigger than Austria. Meanwhile, in China, there is a huge gap of newspaper development between the Eastern part and the Western part of the landscape, thus the degree of concentration differs as well. High concentration presents in the economically developed areas with huge number of newspaper published and printed, while in rural town and villages, the newspaper market is much smaller. Basically every newspaper in Austriais owned by private media companies, while in China, all the newspapers are owned by the state, and normally they are under supervision of the government, therefore lack editorial independence. One interesting thing is that the European media policy regulates financial support such as more subsidies to those less competitive newspapers in order to keep the market competitive enough. However in China, stronger media gets more endorsement from the state. As for the finance condition, both the Austrian and Chinese newspaper have an excessive reliance upon the advertising. In terms of the sales part of revenue, subscription plays a principal role in Austria but in China, most of the sales are fulfilled by retail.

4. Government public relation

When a political system is stable, the government simply cannot escape from the need to have a two-way information communication between the administration and the social public system. So here comes the government public relation. In Austria or in a larger sense the Europe, professional public relation agencies which especially good at dealing with government PR issues exist. The political leaders also hire personal spokesperson to have communication with the mass media. In China, due to the fact that most of the media are state owned, and particularly Xinhua, CCTV and the People’s Daily would function as the mouthpiece for the government. They hold the responsibility as building good images for the government, the Party and the state leaders. So in some sense, they are performing the role of government public relation as well.

In general, as Professor Trappel has put, Magnitude (the relatively large number of media products in proportion to the smallish market) and Power (high degree of market concentration) characterise the Austrian media landscape. For China, with almost all media outlets state-run, each year the country was ranked poorly on Media Freedom Index. However the media market has growing an increasingly commercial one with intensified competition, which may bring more changes to the future of China’s media landscape.