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Major U.S. Media Companies’ Business Ties with China

Chinese Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets around the World (sina web site)
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CHINASCOPE

{Editor’s Notes: The Chinese edition of the Epoch Times did a report on the business ties that mainstream media companies in the U. S. have with China. The report concluded that, over time, because of their business connections, their reporting shifted to being pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP).} {1}

CNN is not having any luck lately. Last November, there was a rumor that AT&T was ready to sell CNN. In the past several days, multiple media outlets reported that, by March 31, after 30 years in business, CNN will discontinue airing its programs at airport terminals throughout the U.S. It attributed the cause to reduced airport traffic because of the pandemic and the fact that more people are getting their news on their phones or from other online platforms.

In recent years, CNN’s image as a professional media outlet has been in question. Last December, Project Veritas exposed a recording taken during a CNN conference call in October 2020. In the conference call, Jeff Zucker, CNN’s President, urged his staff not to “normalize” Trump. He also told the editorial board not to do follow up reports on Biden family scandals.

Even though CNN attributed shutting down airport broadcast services last year to COVID 19, it loudly applauded the CCP’s pandemic lockdown approach while at the same time also ignoring how the CCP covered up the origin of the virus. The CNN host also praised China for sending Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to foreign countries when those countries, especially in Europe, found there were quality issues with China supplied ventilators and face masks.

Chris Cuomo, CNN host and brother of the New York State Governor, commented that the origin of COVID 19 could be from anywhere. He also speculated that there were COVID 19 cases in the U.S. as far back as October 2019 during the flu season. Beijing was extremely pleased with Cuomo’s comments. All the official media outlets in China quoted Cuomo’s words to push the theory that it was the U.S. but not China that was covering up the outbreak of the virus.

Helen Raleigh, Asian American writer and senior contributor at The Federalist, said, “You often see representatives from American companies with financial ties to China naturally become defenders of the CCP’s policies while they also spread the CCP’s propaganda.” {2}

Among those American companies, many of them are mainstream media companies. Flora Chang, professor of the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University, has said: “These media outlets and advertisers may want to enter the Chinese market or worry that their market share in China will be threatened. As a result, they impose certain influence and censorship on freedom of speech, and eventually have formed a hidden red force worldwide.”

Driven by huge market and business interests in China, some American media outlets have chosen to bow to the CCP. CNN is owned and operated by Warner Media. It is known that Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Warner Media, has been kowtowing to the CCP. Inevitably, the temptation of the Chinese market has played a big role in its decision making. Let’s talk about the business ties that these major media have with the CCP.

Warner Bros.  Unable to Resist the Temptation of the Chinese Market

Warner Media’s investments in the Chinese market can be traced back to 18 years ago. According to a Sina Finance report from early 2002, shortly after China formally joined the World Trade Organization, Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Warner Media, had already invested in Shanghai Paradise Cinema. At the same time, it also invested in Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd., a subsidiary of City Telecom, a Hong Kong telecommunications group that was formed in 1992.

In 2002, a three-day Paley International Council Summit [Editor’s note: often referred to as the “Davos of the Media”] was held in Beijing. Warner Media and other news media, including the BBCCBS, the Disney Group, as well as several others participated in the Summit. {3}

The first Paley Summit was held in 1995 in Italy with the next five Summits in European cities such as Rome, Paris, and London. The Summit picked Beijing as the first Summit location in Asia. This happened when Kissinger, China’s “old friend,” was the vice chairman of the Summit.

The topics of the Summit in Beijing included the current state of globalization and the relationship between state-owned and private media in the media industry. However, one of the important topics discussed was how to develop the Chinese media market. Then CCP leader Jiang Zemin also hosted a dinner banquet for the delegates.

In 2003, one year after the Paley Summit in Beijing, Warner invested 13.965 million yuan (US$2.15 million) and held a 49 percent stake in the Shanghai Yonghua Cinema, a subsidiary of Shanghai Paradise under Shanghai Film Group Corporation.

In 2004, according to the BBC, Warner Bros. and Wanda Real Estate reached an agreement to create the Warner Wanda Cinemas to build cinemas in all of the Wanda Group’s shopping complexes. {4}

However, Beijing has made many requests to the cinema industry so that it could exert a strong influence over the minds of the public. An R&D executive with Legend Media (乐正传媒) once said that the authorities in the cinema industry hoped to air movies that promote their “main theme” in theaters. The idea, however, was rejected by some cinemas that have foreign investments because of the profitability concerns. This also made the authorities realize that there are risks with foreign ownership of cinemas. Everyone in the mainland understands that the “main theme” refers to movies that sing the praises of the party’s efforts and achievements.

At the end of 2005, Beijing published “Opinions on the Introduction of Foreign Investment in the Culture Industry,” requiring that the Chinese investors hold more than a 51 percent interest to maintain the majority share when building new theaters. In 2006, Warner Bros. withdrew from the Chinese cinema market, largely for this reason. It returned back later, however, because China’s market had a cumulated annual growth rate of 45 percent.

In 2012, the number of cinemas in China reached 13,000, second only to the U.S. At that time, investment in the cinema industry took off. Warner Bros. tapped into the Chinese cinema market again.

In June 2013, Warner Bros. announced a partnership with China Media Capital (CMC), the CCP’s first state-owned venture capital in the culture industry. {5} Li Reigang, the founder of China Media Capital and a CCP member, held several official positions, including Deputy Editor Director of the Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group, President of the Shanghai Media Group, and Dragon Television Chairman of the Board.

On September 20, 2015, CMC and Warner Bros. announced that they had entered into a joint venture agreement and formed the Flagship Entertainment Group, where CMC holds a 51percent share while Warner Bros. holds 49 percent. Lured by gain and interests, Warner Bros., who once hoped to have the majority shareholder stake in China’s cinema industry, caved in. {6}

According to Helen Raleigh, when American companies work with organizations such as CMC, they are subject to China’s use of its laws to advance its global objectives, including their cyber security laws. This includes forced technology transfers, leaving companies and data subject to random searches from the CCP. Companies are also forced to build data centers in China, where the CCP can observe the data directly. All of this poses a national security risk for the United States. {7}

Knowing all of the above, it is not hard to understand why CNN praised the CCP’s handling of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Another media giant who was at the 2002 Paley International Council Summit in Beijing is CBS.

CBS  Made a Huge Investment in China

In recent years, CBS has made huge investments to expand in the Chinese market. One of them is called the CBSInteractive in China. It included first-class professional media brands such as zol.com.cn, 55BBS, Online Auto Market (cheshi.com), IT Home, and fengniao.com. It has17 professional websites carrying products ranging from technology and automobiles to fashion and more.

According to “CBS Business in China,” an article that China Business Network Weekly published in December 2010 stated that, even though it is difficult to tap into the television industry in China, CBS has not missed this huge market. It has quietly become the largest media group in China.” The article said, “The media giant is deeply vested in the internet. Few people know that CBSi (CBS Interactive), a subsidiary of CBS, is the largest interactive media company in China. It has locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an, and Chengdu.”

Around 2010, China became the largest market for CBSi outside of the U.S. According to the data CBSi provided, the Chinese market accounts for 10 percent of its worldwide revenue. The 40 percent annual market growth rate in China has far exceeded the company’s average worldwide growth rate. It has also exceeded the average growth rate in the online advertising industry held by China domestic brands which was 26 percent.

The article also disclosed that money is not a problem for CBSi China. The then President of CBSi China said that CBSi did not cap the investment in China. It just wanted to let its China sector seize the opportunity and maximize the growth.

In addition, CBS is also trying to work with Xinhua News Agency, the mouthpiece of the CCP. It was reported that Xinhua hopes that CBS can help Xinhua TV launch in North America, and CBS hopes that Xinhua can help it enter China’s market. The two sides also hope to cooperate in smartphones and iPads.

Enticed by the interests of China’s huge market, CBS’s presence in China has grown bigger and bigger. Like other mainstream media, it has gradually lost its integrity as a media and started to cooperate with the CCP’s censorship.

In May 2019, the CBS TV network aired a popular legal drama, “The Good Fight.” In the third episode of the third season, CBS TV network deleted a clip that satirized the censorship in China. The deleted screen showed: “CBSHAS CENSORED THIS CONTENT.”

What happened to CBS shows the world that any American companies that want to do business in China need to face the pressure to please the CCP and conform to its censorship. It was just that obvious.

It was said that “The Good Fight” also had scenes showing the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong, the “June 4th” student movement in 1989, and the “Winnie-the-Pooh Bear” that is often used to mock CCP leader Xi Jinping. All of those were deemed to be sensitive content and deleted during CBS’s broadcasting. Even the English letter “N” was blocked because the letter can be interpreted as “endless” in Chinese. It could be used to satirize the CCP’s constitutional amendment which allowed Xi Jinping to hold power indefinitely.

In contrast to the cowardice displayed at this time, more than ten years ago, CBS had courageously held its ground. In 1999, the CCP began to persecute Falun Gong in China. At that time, almost all the global media chose to be silent or carry negative reports from the CCP media.  CBS, on the other hand, repeatedly reported the truth about the persecution.

Today, things have changed. Once any media has economic ties with the CCP, it seems to end up abandoning its principles along with the media’s integrity.

Other Main Stream Media Developed Business Ties with the CCP

Apart from CNN and CBS, what other media companies have unusual relations with the CCP? In May 2020, The Federalist, the conservative online magazine, published an investigative report which summarized the mainstream media’s business ties with the CCP. {8}

In 2013, Amazon CEO and billionaire Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post for $250 million in cash. Bezos has direct ties to the Chinese business market. Amazon’s most popular products, including Amazon Echo and the Kindle e-reader, were almost exclusively produced in China. After years of business dealings in the Chinese market, Bezos’ ties with China are now evident in the Washington Post’s “advertisement” section.

When you purchase a Washington Post subscription, it comes with an advertising insert called “China Watch,” courtesy of China Daily, a Chinese state-run media organization. The Washington Post openly accepts advertising money from the CCP and publishes CCP propaganda in the United States.

Both MSNBC and NBC News are operated by NBC Universal, a company with extensive financial ties to the CCP. In November 2010, NBC signed an agreement with China’s state-run media organization, Xinhua, to establish a business cooperation in international broadcast news.

The most obvious business ties between ABC and China are through their ventures with Walt Disney and ESPN. Both companies have deep-rooted financial stakes in the Chinese economy controlled by the CCP.

There is no doubt that China’s consumer market drives the financial ties of the U.S. media companies with China.

Another media is Bloomberg. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his company Bloomberg LP are heavily invested in China. Bloomberg LP supported 364 Chinese firms and directed approximately $150 billion into their bond offerings. Of these companies, 159 were controlled directly by the CCP. Mike Bloomberg himself has been a CCP apologist. He has personally lobbied against President Trump’s trade negotiations with China and applauds the CCP. Bloomberg claims that Xi Jinping is not a dictator.

On December 10, Trump Jr. tweeted that California Congressman Eric Swalwell was involved in a sex scandal with a CCP spy. CNN’s coverage of the news was only 3 minutes and 16 seconds while MSNBCNBCCBS, and ABC didn’t even have any coverage of this news.

After we  scrutinize these intricate relationships, it is not hard for us to understand the reason for the close relationship between the mainstream media and the CCP.

Endnotes: 

{1} Epoch Times, “The Chinese Business of Major U.S. Media,” January 16, 2021.
https://www.epochtimes.com/gb/21/1/16/n12692517.htm.
{2} The Federalist, “A Rundown Of Major U.S. Corporate Media’s Business Ties To China,” May 4, 2020.
https://thefederalist.com/2020/05/04/has-china-compromised-every-major-mainstream-media-entity/.
{3} The Paley Center for Media website, “Paley International Council Summit.”
https://www.paleycenter.org/mc-media-council/paley-international-council-overview/.
{4} Warner Bros, “Wanda Group And Warner Bros. International Cinemas Jointly Create Warner Wanda Cinemas,” January 17, 2014.
https://www.warnerbros.com/news/press-releases/wanda-group-and-warner-bros-international-cinemas-jointly-create-warner-wanda-cinemas.
{5} L.A. Biz, “Warner Bros. partners with China Media Capital,” June 6, 2013.
https://www.bizjournals.com/losangeles/news/2013/06/06/warner-bros-partners-with-china-media.html.
{6} Warner Bros., “China Media Capital (CMC) and Warner Bros. Entertainment Form Joint Venture Flagship Entertainment Group Limited,” September 20, 2015.
https://www.warnerbros.com/news/press-releases/china-media-capital-cmc-and-warner-bros-entertainment-form-joint-venture-flagship.
{7} The Federalist, “A Rundown Of Major U.S. Corporate Media’s Business Ties To China,” May 4, 2020. Ibid.
https://thefederalist.com/2020/05/04/has-china-compromised-every-major-mainstream-media-entity/.
{8} Ibid.

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