CCTV spreads China’s soft power
November 8, 2011

CCTV no, not the close circuit type, but China Central Television is on an expansion spree. The network which is generally known to broadcast Beijing opinion nationally is busy constructing an office on 36,000 sq ft at 1099 New York Avenue, three city blocks from Bloomberg’s offices in the city – and is hiring local staff to work at the facility.

The proposed network is expected to be up and running by Mid-2012, about two years after it launched its first 24 hour global English network.

Aping a growth model similar to Al Jazeera, the Arab-centric news channel which has spread its wings far and wide, CCTV is also busy recruiting a high-profile figure to be the face of the channel, much like Al Jazeera hired Sir David Frost to be its face in 2006.

According to the Financial Times who broke the story, the idea is to create a global network of soft power. Catering to communities with a large Chinese population, besides its homestead, CCTV has built a studio in Nairobi from which it broadcasts news and entertainment to the huge Chinese community already building the continents infrastructure.   While the new Washington headquarters will be its second base outside the country, according to the Financial Times, the Beijing broadcaster already has plans for a European center too.

About 80 percent of the news, views, opinions and commentary the world views on Tv is dominated by about four western news channels. CCTV’s aim is to bring China’s viewpoint across to a larger audience, to spread more information about China, her people, culture, rich history and traditions, it’s also to explain China’s opinion on the changing world and project a side of China which is positive rather than whats usually touted in western media.

In January last year, Xinhua began broadcasting TV programs in Mandarin in Asian and select European countries. Last year, China Central Television (CCTV)  began a 24-hour channel airing in 22 Arabic-speaking countries, reaching a total population of nearly 300 million people.

At a time when global media  are facing a crunch and fiercely competing with content online, Beijing  has earmarked 45 billion yuan (US$6.5 billion) to fund the expansion of groups including Xinhua, state television station CCTV and China Radio International, according to Hong Kong media. The idea is to create a Chinese media empire, that projects views from the middle kingdom, as perceived by Beijing.

China’s media is highly controlled by the government, international news agencies have often been barred from reporting specific stories, the great firewall of China blocks websites unsavory for the Chinese  and Tv programmes are screened before being aired. International news agencies including the Star Tv conglomerate owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, have tried entering the China broadcasting space and have either had to adhere to Beijing’s media management or refrain from operating behind the bamboo curtain.  Those that make it through, are regulated to translate and subtitle all content into Mandarin.

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