China"s media are tightly controlled by the country"s leadership. The opening-up of the industry has extended to distribution and advertising, not to editorial content.
Beijing tries to limit access to foreign news providers by restricting rebroadcast and the use of satellite receivers, by jamming shortwave radio broadcasts, including those of the BBC, and by blocking web sites. Ordinary readers have no access to foreign newspapers.
China online: Surveillance, censorship is extensive
Fears that the media in Hong Kong would lose their independence when the territory reverted to Chinese control in 1997 have generally not been borne out. Hong Kong still has editorially-dynamic media, but worries about interference remain.
The press reports on corruption and inefficiency among officials, but the media as a whole avoid criticism of the Communist Party"s monopoly on power. Each city has its own newspaper, usually published by the local government, as well as a local Communist Party daily.
With more than one billion viewers, television is a popular source for news and the sector is competitive, especially in urban areas. China is also becoming a major market for pay-TV; it is forecast to have 128 million subscribers by 2010. State-run Chinese Central TV, provincial and municipal stations offer a total of around 2,100 channels.
The availability of non-domestic TV is limited. Agreements are in place which allows selected channels - including stations run by AOL Time Warner, News Corp and the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV - to transmit via cable in Guangdong province. In exchange, Chinese Central TV"s English-language network is made available to satellite TV viewers in the US and UK.
Beijing says it will only allow relays of foreign broadcasts which do not threaten "national security" or "political stability". Of late, it has been reining in the activities and investments of foreign media groups. The media regulator - the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television - has warned local stations that foreign-made TV programmes must be approved before broadcast.
The internet scene in China is thriving, though controlled. Beijing routinely blocks access to sites run by the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, rights groups and some foreign news organisations. It has moved to curb postings by a small but growing number of bloggers.
An international group of academics concluded in 2005 that China has "the most extensive and effective legal and technological systems for internet censorship and surveillance in the world".
The media rights group Reporters Without Borders describes the country as the world"s "largest prison for journalists".