Olympic Media Village opens in Beijing

July 25th, 2008 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 25 (Xinhua) The Olympic Media Village opened here Friday amid some foreign media’s concerns about free reporting in China. People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling party, ran a commentary appealing to the administration and common people to “befriend the media.”

“To serve the media is to serve the Olympic Games,” the article said. “To befriend the media is to befriend the audience.”

About 30,000 reporters are expected to cover the Games, the highest in Olympic history, which means the size of the audience could be the highest till date, too.

“It is through the media that the audience across the world are learning about the Olympics, China and Beijing,” the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping included serving the media among the top eight tasks in the preparation for the Games.

“We should provide a good service to the media according to the promises we made, international practice and Chinese laws. Through rich Olympic news, we are to share the joy of the Games with people worldwide,” he said in the speech to officials last month.

Beijing has opened three media centres, the Main Press Centre (MPC), the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and the Beijing International Media Centre (BIMC).

The MPC, on the Beijing National Olympic Green Convention Centre, covers an area of 150,000 square metres, the largest media centre for Olympics till date.

The IBC has been set up on an area of 60,000 square feet to accommodate about 5,000 non-registered reporters.

Although worries about free news reporting are lingering, covering news in China has undergone notable changes.

Several restrictions on foreign media during the preparatory stage and the Games have been lifted.

Local authorities are urged to cooperate with media even when the interview involves sensitive topics such as environmental protection, AIDS and housing displacement.

“We could regard the Olympics as a chance to push the country to open to global media,” said Ren Zhanjiang, dean of the Department of Journalism and Communication, China Youth University for Political Sciences.

Some changes will continue after the Games. In April last year, the Chinese government issued a regulation asking administrations to publicize information that the public should learn about.

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