Posts Tagged ‘Propaganda’

[VIDEO] China’s Rush to Build Global Media Brands

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Al Jazeera’s excellent international media affairs program “The Listening Post” featured a report this week on China’s ambitions to create a global media brand with this year’s launch of CNC World.  I was featured in the report as one of three experts to share my thoughts on some of the challenges that Beijing and CNC will likely encounter with this endeavor.

One of the big mistakes that many international observers make about the Chinese and their global media ambitions is to frame the issue in purely, Western terms.  That is, if CNC World or CCTV News are not competitive with any of the major American or European media brands than somehow China’s media strategy is a failure.  While the Chinese no doubt have ambitions to create media properties with equal heft of CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera among others, I do not think that is their only benchmark of success.

There is growing evidence that networks like CNC may not be targeting already competitive markets in North America or Europe but instead focusing their energy on emerging ‘Southern’ markets in Africa, South Asia and elsewhere. So it is critical to look at this issue in considerably broader terms than most Americans and European media watchers are accustomed.

The barriers to entry in the mature media markets in the developed world are simply too high for networks like CNC to viable without billions of dollars to invest in marketing and distribution.  By contrast, it is considerably cheaper for the Chinese to gain traction in less developed markets where it will not only be cheaper to penetrate but their product will likely receive a much better reception.

3 Lessons France can offer China about government-run media

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Both China and France share a common frustration with the international media and that their country’s “story” is not being accurately conveyed via the CNNs, BBCs and Al Jazeeras of the world.  After years of bitterly complaining about the injustices of international (read Western) news reporting, they both came to same conclusion: “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em.”   In December 2006, the French-government launched France24, its tri-lingual (French, Arabic and English) 24-hour news service distributed around the world via satellite and on the internet.  Similarly, the 2010 launch of CNC World marks China’s third attempt to persuade english language audiences around the world to “see the world through a Chinese perspective.”  The other two networks, CCTV 9 (now re-branded CCTV International”) and Blue Ocean Network (BON Live) are both on-air but have had little-to-no impact among its target demographic of english-speakers around the world.  In contrast to the various Chinese international TV networks now available globally, France24 appears to be gaining considerable traction with audiences in the US and Africa among other regions. (more…)

The New New New Chinese TV Network

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

xinhua CNC imageHere we go again… yet again… a new Chinese international television network launches with great fanfare amid high expectations that this time, finally, China’s story will finally get a fair airing in the global marketplace.   After five months broadcasting in Mandarin, the all new China News Network Corporation debuted its English service this week. Admittedly, I have not seen the new service, either in Chinese or English, but I do approach this venture with the same skepticism I have had for the past ten years of other similar Chinese endeavors.  The Chinese are motivated by what they consider to be the unfair treatment they receive in the international media, particularly among the major global networks like CNN, the BBC and others.  Following the success of Al Jazeera in both Arabic and English, Beijing now has imperial media ambitions of its own to help promote its worldview and grab a larger share of the world’s television news audience.


Public Opinion & Spin Control in China

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009


Quite a few blog entries and articles have been posted around the web regarding the CCP’s initiative to “channel public opinion.”  Authors mainly cite two pieces of information:

a) Hu Jintao’s June 20, 2008 speech on the role of news media organizations in undertaking a dialogue between the Party/Government and the public.

b) An August 13, 2009 publication of the All-China Journalist’s Association that discusses guidelines & recommendations for certain agencies that may need to respond to sudden public rancor.

The more I read about the activity of “channeling” in China (kudos to HKU’s China Media Project), the more I start to think of government “spin” in the United States.  China can’t control public opinion, and I believe they don’t seek to do so anymore as much as influence it.  Like any government, it wants to have its version of the story told.

I used to think that the Party had an unfair advantage because it controls the fourth estate so absolutely, but to see the widespread usage of and engagement of internet BBS, Blogs, and SMS information exchange, that sense of unfairness has eased.  And after living through US media coverage of our own government these past 8 years, I don’t find myself as fervently believing our own media’s independence which affects how I view the Party’s efforts at spin control.

For the most part, I view the efforts by the PRC government to build “channeling” skills as an effort to rid propaganda departments of stodgy tired phrases and rigid stubborn personalities.


Keeping Up with Public Opinon In China – The Party’s Dilemma

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

womanHow does the Chinese public know what it thinks?  My own characterization of the last 30 years posits three stages of evolution:

1) from the Communist Party and government institutions telling the population what to think,

to 2) telling them what they’d like them to think,

to 3) telling them what they are thinking.

This latest stage coincides with the now ubiquitous activity of public opinion surveys in the PRC.

The Communist Party does not see itself as omniscient.  It actively needs to get a read on the population and balance public attitudes and perceptions against the Party’s own interests.  Since the Party’s basic interest is the retention of power and social stability, it can use public opinionto  engage in a dialogue of sorts with the public.  But assessing public opinion is getting harder these days, and it moves at a faster pace than traditional polling can sometimes keep up with.

The China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong provided a translation of a very insightful article that explains how the Party and government agencies believe public opinion can sometimes be a crisis.  The crisis articulated in the article is one of ability to react to meet or confront the opinion.  The root of this is the manner in which opinion can be expressed via the internet or mobile phones – general word of mouth.  Consensus for action among a subset of the population can be reached before the Party and government even understand the root cause.

people shouting

I found this all the more interesting in light of a speech given by Hu Jintao that Drew Thompson of the Nixon Center wrote about

in his most recent paper on responses to refugee crises in the PRC.  In the paper, Drew highlights the new emergency response

planning that China has implemented which I connect to mass issue incidents that are directly related to crises of public opinion.

While I have moments of viewing this evolution with optimism and pessimism, it is, of course, only half the story because public opinion expressed through surveys and digital communication reflects only the urban and sub-urban population mindset.  There are still another 600 Million individuals who don’t have the same benefit of voice that the 700 Million wired/wireless population has.

To Be Continued….