So apparently the controversies in international media this summer over China and the Olympics came as a bit of a shock to the Chinese people. While the government’s retained tight control over its own media, it’s been less able to harmonize those pesky news outlets abroad. Not one to take perceived insults to its national image lying down, Beijing is now throwing RMB 45 billion into targeting global audiences.
From South China Morning Post, which is subscription walled:
Management at CCTV, Xinhua and the People’s Daily have been busy meeting consultants, inviting experts to brainstorming sessions and drafting proposals.
“Xinhua has a plan to expand its overseas bureaus from about 100 to 186,” the source said, suggesting it would have bases in virtually every country in the world.
Another media source said Xinhua planned to create an Asia-based 24-hour television station to broadcast global news to an international audience.
“I was invited twice for brainstorming meetings on the establishment of such a television station, which would not just broadcast news on China, but on everywhere in the world,” a different source said.
The media sources said Xinhua was ambitious about building an “influential and reliable” station like the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network.
“With Al-Jazeera as the model, the station would enjoy greater freedom of speech from the central authorities than Phoenix TV on political and current events,” one source said.
There’s a couple of problems with this approach, most of which should be pretty obvious. A good chunk of Chinese nationals already regard their media with some suspicion, since it’s no secret that dissenting voices aren’t welcome in national newspapers or tv programs. If you can’t fully convince your own people that you’re fair and balanced, it’s going to take much more than a giant wallet to change the minds of an much more dubious international audience.
China spends 45 billion to extend media’s global reach (Zhongnanhai Blog)
Photo from James Fallows.