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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

China wields 'soft power' with English TV broadcasts in Europe

The empire strikes back would be a suitable succinct way to describe this measure to tilt the balance of global favoritism determined by the flows and owners of global media (very broadly, all the transnational media corporations (like Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, et al. are all Western owned, who in turn run most of the world's media, save but one, i.e. Sony from Japan which one might figure, not desire to tilt in China's favour much), once a domain so well played out by the U.S. Like China's aspirations to build an aircraft carrier to find a stable middle path between east and west, China's quite had enough of one-sided press reports for some time now, and is more than eager to be heard by the English-speaking world. The global power shift has not just begun. We're right in the thick of it.


China wields 'soft power' with English TV broadcasts in Europe
Source - the Straits Times 30 June 2009

BEIJING: China's official news agency will begin providing English-language television broadcasts on screens in European supermarkets this week, in Beijing's latest move to expose Western audiences to its view of world events.

The Xinhua news agency, in partnership with about a dozen European broadcast partners, will show 90 minutes of news daily on TV screens in supermarkets and outside Chinese embassies across Europe starting tomorrow, Mr Chen Yue, a spokesman for Xinhua's English news department, said yesterday.

'China has recognised the importance of soft power, and through the medium of television and the Internet, the Chinese government aims to strengthen its influence internationally,' he added.

He did not give details on which supermarkets would carry the broadcasts, or in which countries. The Financial Times cited an editorial staff member of Xinhua, however, as saying that the broadcasts would be aired in Brussels and other cities.

It is not known what benefit the stores would gain from showing broadcasts from an agency that is seen as the propaganda arm of the Chinese government.

The announcement comes after the ruling Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, announced plans to expand its coverage. It also comes after state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said it would revamp its news broadcasts for the first time in a decade to combat a sharp decline in viewership.

The People's Daily launched an English-language edition of its popular Global Times earlier this year.

The moves are believed to be part of a government plan to fund a major international expansion of CCTV, the People's Daily and Xinhua.

Academics with an advisory role in the plan have said the government would hand out 30 billion yuan to 45 billion yuan (S$6.4 billion to S$9.6 billion) to the media groups, the Financial Times said, though it added that the Chinese government has denied the numbers.

The Xinhua broadcasts in Europe will consist mostly of 10- to 15-minute news briefs plus a 30-minute feature and lifestyles segment, Mr Chen said. All shows are recorded in Xinhua's Beijing studio.

The Chinese media drive reflects steps already taken by Russia and Qatar to influence international news coverage through their state-funded Russia Today and Al-Jazeera channels. Those attempts to challenge the BBC and CNN have scored some success.