World media leaders convene in Beijing

Murdoch, others to meet with Xinhua over information market

BEIJING -- Top global news executives gathered in Beijing Thursday for the first World Media Summit hosted by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, with some planning to push for a further opening of the tightly-controlled market for news, information and entertainment content.

At the Beijing Hotel, Xinhua president Li Congjun sat next to guests of honor Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO, and David Schlesinger, editor in chief of Thomson Reuters. At the same table, Xinhua Editor in Chief He Ping was flanked by Tom Curley, president and CEO of The Associated Press and Vitaly Ignatenko, director general of Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

Chinese president Hu Jintao was set to address the summit's opening session Friday morning, where 300 heads of global news organizations are due to gather in China's legislature, The Great Hall of the People, organizers said. Hu will be followed by Xinhua's Li. Western news organization delegates said they expected both speeches to be largely self-congratulatory in nature. Oct. 1 marked the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Since before the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, China's one-party communist leadership has made periodic statements about improving the nation's image in the global media.

Schlesinger, a Chinese speaker with years of experience here, said he planned to use his allotted time in Friday's planned panel sessions "to urge China to increase transparency in financial information and the release of data, so all players are treated equally."

China is expected to overtake Japan in 2010 as the world's No. 2 economy after the United States.

"If China truly does wants to be a global media player, it's got to have a global standard of transparency," said Schlesinger, whose company competes vigorously with the likes of Dow Jones, a News Corp company, and Bloomberg, to report about the Chinese economy.

Last year, China lost a case in the World Trade Organization that saw the oversight of the sale of financial data taken out of Xinhua's hands and put under the stewardship of the State Council Information Office, the voice of China's cabinet.

As China moves its media slowly towards transparency, trying to target media consumers with advertising is a strong motive for some summit guests not in the traditional news business.

Media measurement company and Hollywood Reporter parent The Nielsen Company is attending as a summit sponsor to talk about ways it can help advertisers understand China's Internet population of 338 million, the largest in the world.

John Burbank, CEO of the online division, said Nielsen -- which exited its TV audience measurement business here earlier this year -- is committed to China for the long-term.  "We can't talk to any of the multinational advertisers these days without their asking us for help in understanding China's Web space."

One local Nielsen client, online video giant, has started using Nielsen's Web traffic tracking tools to gauge sponsors' brand impact around the airing of episodes of current Chinese language TV serial dramas, said Youku CEO Victor Koo.

"We're working with local and international copyright holders both, so for us, bringing them together at a meeting like this is a good place to show what's possible around video on the Chinese web," Koo said.

Separately, Nielsen will compile survey data collected from the summit delegates so Xinhua can gauge how to improve the event's sophomore edition, set tentatively for 2011, organizers said.

Guests at the Xinhua table of honor Wednesday were (in alphabetical order):

Charles Chao, president and CEO of Chinese Web portal;

Wang Chen, minister of China's State Council Information Office, the voice of the country's cabinet and the regulator of the Chinese companies that sell financial data used by international financial news services;

Cristina Frias, board member of the Brazilian publishing conglomerate the Folha Group;

He Ping, Xinhua editor in chief;

Seok Hyun Hong of Korea's leading newspaper the JoongAng Ilbo,

Hu Zhanfan, vice minister of China's State Administration of Radio Film and Television;

Masaru Imai, the associate international director of Japan's Kyodo News Agency;

Vitaly Ignatenko, director general of Russian news agency ITAR-TASS;

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of the News Corporation;

Li Ruigang, president of China's No. 2 media conglomerate, the Shanghai Media Group;

David Schlesinger, editor in chief of Thomson Reuters;

Mikhail Seslanivskiy, chief of Russia's Federal Office on Press and Mass Communication;

Wu Shulin, deputy director of China's General Administration of Press and Publications, the group that oversees all newspaper publication;

Steve Marcopoto, Asia Pacific president and managing director of Turner Broadcasting System;

Clive Marshall, CEO of the Australia Associated Press;

Richard Sambrook, director of global news for the British Broadcasting Corp;

Lars Vesterlokke, editor in chief and CEO of Danish news agency Ritzau;

Zhu Yinghua, Google Greater China's head of public policy and public affairs.