Media business

Foreign newspapers to be printed in China?

This is from a press release from Canadian company called Newspaper Direct, apparently sent out on August 4:

NewspaperDirect, Inc. the world leader in digital print-on-demand newspaper distribution, announced this week that it has signed an agreement with Beijing Founder Easiprint Co. Ltd. (Founder), a part of the $3-billion revenue (USD) Founder Group, which will enable, for the first time, foreign newspapers to be printed in the People's Republic of China. The agreement provides Founder with distribution and printing rights throughout China for all NewspaperDirect's hundreds of print-on-demand newspaper titles.

Both companies see the agreement as an important step in opening the country to foreign media, especially in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Starting in August 2006, NewspaperDirect and Founder will be providing overseas business people visiting or living in the world's fastest-growing economy with same-day access to their favourite newspapers.

Through this agreement, Founder Easiprint's rapidly growing chain of over 200 franchised print shops in China will be authorized to print any of the titles published by NewspaperDirect's publishing partners. These titles include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune (USA), The Times, The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph (UK), Le Monde, Le Figaro (France), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Switzerland), Mainichi Shimbun (Japan), The Globe and Mail and National Post (Canada)...

..."For publishers this provides an exciting opportunity to be in at the ground floor of foreign newspaper distribution in China. The country is visited by many more foreigners each year, and they will now be able to receive same-day, digitally printed copies of their favorite daily newspapers.

"We are excited by the opportunity to partner with NewspaperDirect to print and distribute the world's press in China," said Mr. Qi Degui, General Manager of Founder Easiprint Co., Ltd. "We are honored to be the first company allowed to print foreign newspapers in China."

This is excellent news for media junkies.

If it's true.

Danwei sources at the International Herald Tribune and the Financial Times have previously indicated that those two newspapers have been trying to get permission to print copies in China for years, but to no avail. Will Founder really be able to swing it?

If any journalists want to follow this story, and it should be followed (your correspondent does not have the time right now), the contact people, phone numbers and email addresses for both Founder and Newspaper Direct are at the bottom of the press release, which you can see here. You should also contact the China Book and Periodical Import and Export Corporation (6506 6688), one of about 12 government organizations with book and periodical import and distribution rights, as well as the usual suspects at GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publications). Note that if the newspapers are printed digitally in small quantities, just for delivery to five star hotels and embassies, it will not mean much to the average person. But it will be yet another brick removed from the wall.

The press release was forwarded to Danwei by our Beijing scuba diving source.

UPDATE: See this Financial Times article about the above, and read the comments for more inside information from Cestmoi, who points out that there are actually a dozen organizations permitted to import books and periodicals, not two as previously stated in this article.

There are currently 1 Comments for Foreign newspapers to be printed in China?.

Comments on Foreign newspapers to be printed in China?

ND is nothing new in the world of press distribution (i.e. print on demand of newspapers with specialized equipment -but on A3 format type of paper, not the real thing-). ND and its competitors (2-3 of them all bankrupt today) remain minuscule and never developed well. They usually sign contracts with hotel chains or ambassies, so these entities can provide instantly recent copies of newspapers to their residents worldwide, much faster of course than any delivery by airlines of the real thing on paper (subject to an agreement with the publishers for providing to companies like ND some digital version of their newspaper).

Of course, as one may guess, Internet, and sites of publishers, and digital versions of press products (offered by Newstand.com for ex., or just press reviews sent by email, like the one sent every day for free by the French Ambassy concerning all the press worldwide about China), and the development of laptops for travelers, compromised very seriously quickly the prospects of companies like ND.

I think ND signed with a HK mag distributor a contract a few years ago, and I wouldn't be suprised that it didn't go very far in HK (I never heard of it again).
For the record, thanks to progress in technology, on top of Internet sites and digital editions of magazines, publishers with intl products, such as FT, IHT, etc. tend to multiply their printing sites accross the world, close to their readers...

Now, regarding imports of press and books there are officially a dozen of authorized importers in the PRC (largest being Zhongtu, aka CNPIEC) ...(and much much more when you check the Customs data in their computers in fact !). In any case, imports of print media are extremply strictly controlled as an internal documents from GAPP/Propaganda reminded last year to official importers. Import for retail of press is in particular off-limits for most of the official importers themselves (roughly only allowed in 4-5* hotels and by CNPIEC for a list of only a few dozens of foreign titles). It is a bit more lenient for subscriptions (imported in bulk, of course individual subscriptions purchased directly overseas are not controlled anymore nowadays at least in big cities or for companies). I guess GAPP/Propaganda didn't think much about the minuscule ND business yet, but technically it is just like printing an Internet page of a given newspaper and (re)selling it.

To be frank, we had the opportuity to study the ND market, amongst other aspects of press import, during the last 5 years in detail in the PRC, and quickly gave up...

Sounds to me just like a bit of PR leading nowhere (a bit like the Mingpao-Rolling Stone saga...)

Written from my little laojia, lost in the middle of France, in the beautiful coutryside...

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