Bloomberg News

China to Start U.S. Channel as State Media Takes Culture Abroad

January 06, 2012

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- China will start airing a 24-hour television channel to homes in New York in the first quarter, the nation’s latest effort to expand state-controlled media overseas as it seeks to wield greater cultural influence.

“It’s our role to propagate information about China overseas,” Yan Xinxia, a director at the State Council Information Office’s China Internet Information Center, told reporters in Hong Kong today. The center will partner with CMMB Vision Holdings Ltd. for the TodayChina channel, which will be distributed free using digital TV technology in New York City.

China is expanding the reach of state media overseas and strengthening control of local television and Internet content as President Hu Jintao seeks to curb the spread of foreign influence on Chinese society. The West is using cultural means to divide China, which needs to be alert to this threat, Hu said in comments published this week.

“International forces are trying to Westernize and divide us by using ideology and culture,” Hu said in an October speech that was reprinted as a signed essay in Qiushi, a magazine backed by the ruling Communist Party, and published on the government’s website on Jan. 1.

The new channel will feature news and entertainment content in English and Chinese with English subtitles, CMMB Vision Chairman Charles Wong said. China’s government supports state media projects to expand overseas, Yan said. The China Internet Information Center offers content in 10 languages, she said.

CMMB Vision climbed 1.6 percent to 6.4 Hong Kong cents at the close of Hong Kong trading. The stock has lost 26 percent in the past year, compared with a 21 percent decline for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Following Xinhua

In 2010, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency started broadcasting a 24-hour TV channel overseas and the Ministry of Commerce funded production of commercials aired on Time Warner Inc.’s CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp. that year as the government sought a greater voice internationally.

Broadcasters in China must cut the number of entertainment shows during prime time by more than two-thirds, Xinhua reported this week, citing the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. The government is seeking to assert more control of the media and Internet as it grapples with rising social unrest over work conditions and government corruption.

Internet Surveillance

The country with the most cultural influence will gain a competitive advantage in a globalized world, in which people are exposed to many ideologies and values, Hu said in the speech that Qiushi published as an essay.

China’s system of Internet surveillance, also known as the “Great Firewall,” requires domestic operators including Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to self-censor content deemed unacceptable to the government, and blocks overseas services such as Google Inc.’s YouTube, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

China had 485 million Internet users at the end of June, according to government data. That’s more than the combined populations of the U.S. and Japan.

The China Internet Information Center, founded in 2000, operates the China.com.cn portal, and has more than 40 employees working to produce multimedia content including video, Yan said.

--Editors: Suresh Seshadri, Frank Longid

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net


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