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China Media Digest 0901 (week1-4)

RMB 45 Billion, soft power and global influence

cctv-new-buildingAccording to the story of South China Morning Post (all articles behind a paywall), Beijing will invest RMB 45 billion (about GBP 4.5 billion) in Chinese media organizations which target global audiences. The list will include CCTV, Xinhua and the People’s Daily. China wants it’s own Al-Jazeera.

Management at CCTV, Xinhua and the People’s Daily have been busy meeting consultants, inviting experts to brainstorming sessions and drafting proposals. “Xinhua has a plan to expand its overseas bureaus from about 100 to 186,” the source said, suggesting it would have bases in virtually every country in the world. Another media source said Xinhua planned to create an Asia-based 24-hour television station to broadcast global news to an international audience. “I was invited twice for brainstorming meetings on the establishment of such a television station, which would not just broadcast news on China, but on everywhere in the world,” a different source said. The media sources said Xinhua was ambitious about building an “influential and reliable” station like the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network. “With Al-Jazeera as the model, the station would enjoy greater freedom of speech from the central authorities than Phoenix TV on political and current events,” one source said. Meanwhile, the Global Times, a daily tabloid owned by the People’s Daily and known for its nationalistic tone, has decided to launch an English edition in May, becoming the second national English newspaper, after China Daily. The paper has begun recruiting English-speaking editors and journalists. CCTV has announced plans to launch Arabic and Russian channels this year, aggressively expanding its team of overseas reporters and recruiting foreign-language professionals.

Below is the comment from Cam MacMurchy at Zhongnanhai Blog,

Isn’t CCTV 9 supposed to present China’s view to the world? Is there a point in lauching a second one without fixing the first? The problem isn’t lack of TV channels or media outlets that present China’s case to foreigners, it’s the lack of any media outlets that present China’s case well. If Xinhua’s new TV endeavor is run in the same manner CCTV is, with the same group of life-long communisty party members in bad suits calling the shots, it will be doomed to failure. In fact, I’d go one step further: any mainland Chinese run media outlet will be taken less seriously as long as general media controls are in place. Which brings me to my second point: the credibility of the media in China. China could open a hundred news organizations and blanket the world with China’s point of view, but it would be greeted with just as much suspicion as it is now because China, despite all of its advancements, remains a one-party state with absolute control over all domestic media.

James Fallows also asked, “Will $6 billion solve the Chinese PR problem?” Nicholas Bequelin at Wall Street Journal Asia described it as “China’s New Propaganda Machine Going Global”. David Bandurski at China Media Project noted the relationship between “soft power” or “global influence” and the huge investment project. A speech of Li Changchun (李长春) is quoted and translated in the article.

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