In a reversal from their previous optimism about China, foreign media companies are becoming disillusioned with their prospects there and moving to other markets, notably India. The New York Times reports:
Media executives still believe that Chinese audiences are receptive to Western culture — “SpongeBob SquarePants” is a big hit in China — but many companies have been pulling back out of frustration over censorship, piracy, strict restrictions on foreign investment and the glacial pace of its bureaucracy.
In recent weeks, America Online shut its operations in China, for the second time. Warner Brothers, the movie studio that shares a corporate parent with AOL in Time Warner, had plans as recently as 2006 to open more than 200 retail stores throughout China, with a local partner. Today there are no such plans.
“No one really has a decent-size presence there, and no one seems to know how to get one,” said Michael Del Nin, senior vice president for international and corporate strategy at Time Warner. “In terms of priorities, the focus is elsewhere.”