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Most of China tunes in to radio

Industry watchers predict revs will grow quickly

SHANGHAI — New statistics suggest radio reaches almost 1.2 billion of China’s 1.3 billion people — up from just 700 million a year ago.

Radio, like the TV industry, has consolidated in the past three years. There are 306 stations, with many in cities grouped into larger media congloms. In Shanghai, for example, Eastern Radio and Shanghai Radio have merged under the giant Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group.

State Administration of Radio, Film & Television deputy director Hu Zhanfan said China’s stations now produce close to 2,000 programs and more than 22,000 hours of content a day.

In 2003, radio stations generated around 2.2 billion yuan ($265 million) from advertising, a small but growing chunk of revenue compared to TV’s $8 billion in 2002.

Industry watchers predict revs will grow quickly in an advertising market that is well below saturation point.

China National Radio is still the only national wireless broadcaster, with eight stations of its own.

Car ownership is thought to be a factor in rising listenership. With the automobile industry reporting annual growth of more than 100% in some markets on the back of rising personal incomes, people are spending more time on the road and listening to their radios.

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