The Impact of Broadband Internet on Public Media: Evidence from China
The Impact of Broadband Internet on Public Media: Evidence from China
Ce (Matthew) Shi, Danhou Li
Year of Publishing:
Working Paper

This paper investigates the impact of broadband Internet on traditional public media in a large developing country. We use new panel data on public broadcasting at the province level from 2005 to 2017 and a control function approach exploiting variation in China's centralized roll-out of digital infrastructure. We find that rising broadband penetration has substantial negative impacts on the provision of media content---including news, public-service programs, and entertainment---in China's local radio and television. Furthermore, consistent with the essential role of advertising in financing public media in China, industry ad revenues decrease significantly while both the quantity of ads broadcast per channel and advertising intensity increase with higher broadband penetration rates. We also find that broadband Internet attracts young and educated viewers away from television but has no effect on the elderly, the less educated, and those with low-paying jobs. Given that public media has a unique social role, our findings highlight the importance of understanding the broadband effect on public media provision in the digital age.

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