, BEIJING, Jul 19 – China’s funding for its official news agency almost doubled last year, as the country sought to expand the global influence of its state-controlled media, the government said on Thursday.
Government financing for Xinhua news agency, China’s state run news wire, rose to 1.9 billion yuan ($298 million) last year from just under one billion yuan in 2010, according to a budget report posted on the government’s website.
Total revenue in 2011 reached 5.6 billion yuan, the report said.
The increase in funding comes after China’s top propaganda official said last year that he hoped Xinhua would project its voice globally as part of a major push to expand the rising nation’s “soft power”.
Last August, Xinhua became the first Chinese company to acquire advertising space in New York’s Time’s Square, leasing a 18 metre (60 foot) high screen to broadcast promotional videos.
The company also moved its North American headquarters to offices near the square, part of a bid by the agency to “build itself into a world-class, all-media news corporation”, Xinhua said.
The agency also expanded the reach of its 24-hour TV news channel CNC World, beginning satellite broadcasts to Europe and Africa, and striking a deal to reach more homes in North America. The channel now reaches over 60 countries.
Xinhua employs more than 16,000 people, and has more than 160 bureaus across the globe. The company is set to have 200 bureaus worldwide by 2020.
Xinhua also expanded domestically last year, launching a Chinese-language Internet search engine in cooperation with a Chinese mobile phone company.
The agency was founded by China’s Communist Party and is under the leadership of the party’s propaganda bureau. Li Congjun, head of Xinhua stressed the loyalty of the agency to the party in a speech last year.
“We must fight for socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “foster a Marxist news concept”, he said.