News / Asia

    China's State-Run CCTV Seeks to Grow English Speaking Audience

    The visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to Washington this week has been leading television news programs in the United States. And not all of them are produced by U.S. broadcasters. China’s state-run China Central Television, or CCTV, has joined America’s increasingly crowded market of cable news programs.

    In less than five months, CCTV America has hired more than 65 people to get its Washington, DC operations off the ground. Before the U.S. elections in November, it plans to grow its staff to nearly 100 and more than double its current hour-long nightly broadcast.

    CCTV America has lured seasoned journalists, anchors, producers and editors from the likes of Al Jazeera, Fox News and the BBC with salaries that sources tell VOA are, in some cases, 20 percent higher than its competitors.

    Phillip Yin, a former reporter and anchor for Bloomberg Television and CNBC in Hong Kong and Singapore, said he joined CCTV to be a part of history.

    "This is a very special operation, if you will, a project, that will define the relationship between the U.S. and China for decades to come," Yin said.

    The broadcaster’s U.S. debut this month, and the opening of CCTV Africa in Nairobi, Kenya last month, are the latest step in Beijing’s multi-billion-dollar campaign to expand China’s global media footprint. CCTV says it reaches 100 million viewers in 120 countries and territories, and that’s just one of several state-run media outlets making tracks around the world.

    Soft power

    The move comes at a time when China’s political and economic actions at home and abroad are coming under increasing scrutiny.

    Beijing’s image is complicated at best in Africa, where it is building major infrastructure projects and boosting local economies, but is also accused of overlooking human rights abuses in its quest for natural resources.

    China’s foreign investments are a dynamic source of support to America’s economy, but the massive U.S.-China trade deficit is a point of tension.

    China’s attacks on rights advocates, journalists and other activists are also a sensitive issue.

    In China, state media is tightly controlled and expected to put the Communist Party’s interests first. That style of journalism could be a harder sell in foreign markets.

    Sarah Cook, an East Asia analyst at the U.S. rights group Freedom House, says it is hard to imagine that the journalists at the new operation won’t quickly run into problems. “I am pretty skeptical about how much leeway they are really going to have because of the breadth of censorship topics [in China],” she said.

    Editorial staff at CCTV America say they won't shy away from touchy topics and note that the operation is locally controlled in Washington, not Beijing.

    "They didn't hire us saying, ‘We want you to do this.’ They hired us saying, ‘We really want your experience and expertise. We want to raise our level, our profile. We want to follow your lead,’” said Barbara Dury, formerly with CBS’s 60 Minutes program. She is now the senior producer of the news magazine show Americas Now. “Now, when that changes, that could be a different story."

    Delicate balance

    When asked how CCTV America would cover sensitive subjects such as protests against the Chinese vice president’s visit this week, Jim Laurie, a veteran foreign correspondent and executive consultant for CCTV, said such developments would be handled on a “case by case basis.”

    However, Laurie said that portraying CCTV as just a mouthpiece for the Chinese government ignores the complexity of what the broadcaster does.

    "I put this channel in the same context I would put Al Jazeera. Is it the mouthpiece of the Qataris? Or CNN. Is it the mouthpiece of commercial broadcasting in Atlanta? Is the BBC the mouthpiece of the British government? Is French 24 the mouthpiece of the French?  Is Russian Today, or Russian RT as it's called, the mouthpiece of Vladimir Putin? I leave it to you to judge those kinds of things."

    There's no reason, Laurie added, that China should not be able to do quality, objective, and respectable television.

    Despite the assurances, media rights advocates say China’s approach to global news remains a work in progress, much like its U.S. headquarters. A recent visit to the broadcaster’s Washington news center revealed that sleek modern studios are up and running, but the office spaces and conference rooms are still under construction.

    VOA Mandarin service correspondent Wu Shaorong also contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora