Examining China's triple-network convergence plan: Regulatory challenges and policy recommendations
Review articleOpen access

AbstractTechnological convergence has challenged the wisdom of regulators around the world for years, especially since the boom of the internet in the early 1990s. Different approaches have been proposed to replace the legacy “silo” regulatory model. This is now a compelling issue in China, the world's largest developing country. The historical separation between telecommunications and television and the strict “silo” type of regulation have resulted in an asymmetric market where phone companies control the conduit and broadcasters dominate the content. However, the Chinese government has turned the convergence of telecommunication, television and internet into a national strategy. According to the State Council's ambitious plan, the Chinese government aims to achieve a competitive converged information industry and an accompanying clear, scientific and efficient regulatory regime by 2015. Drawing on the theory of fragmented authoritarianism, this paper examines China's uneven path to triple-network convergence. Theoretically, this paper complements the existing research on China's information policy, which is mostly one-shot and sector-specific, with a complete treatment of convergence policy evolution that involves both telecommunications and television. Practically, this paper finds that there are two remarkable characteristics in China's convergence policy-making, namely, the causal relationship between institutional and policy change and the consistent policy objectives, which will continue to shape to future to come. Based on the above findings, a sketch of the future regulatory regime and relevant policy recommendations are provided.

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