The long-heralded restructuring of State Council ministries and departments was finally announced today. As had been anticipated, the General Administration of Press and Publications and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television will merge into a new body, the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television (guojia xinwen chuban guangbo dianying dianshi zongju 国家新闻出版广播电影电视总局). The National Copyright Administration, a subordinate department of GAPP, will also be brought into the SAPPRFT, an unfortunate moniker if ever there was one. It had been expected earlier that the Ministry of Culture would be brought into this merger as well, but this has not happened. According to the SCMP, this is due to a perceived functional difference: the Ministry of Culture is there to provide cultural products and services to the public, while GAPP and SARFT represented the voice of the administration.
The official statement released in the People’s Daily indicates the merger will ensure better management over the different media and culture sectors governed by the new body. QQ reports that this may lead to a reduction of overlap in licensing and supervision procedures, and ensures the culture administration will be better able to respond to the development of converged products and services. Convergence had stimulated both organizations to expand bureaucratic remits and control emerging, lucrative markets such as Internet broadcasting, leading to large amounts of red tape and licensing procedures for enterprises in the field. It should not be expected, however, that this merger will lead to any form of liberalization or deregulation. It is likely that cultural and media policy will remain in line with the Central Committee Decision on Cultural Reform of late 2011, which aimed to combine commercial success with enhanced political control. Also, problems of administrative overlap and dual licensing remain, particularly in the field of Internet management, as the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology maintain their respective Internet portfolios.