America

China Joins The Cable News Fray

Move over, CNN.

China's official Xinhua news agency launches a global English-language television service today.

The new round-the-clock service, dubbed CNC (China Xinhua News Network Corp.) will "present an international vision with a China perspective to global audiences," according to the news agency's president, Li Congjun.

No doubt the flexing of China's media muscles is a natural outgrowth of the country's growing pride and influence, but the thinly veiled catch is likely to be that part about a China perspective. Xinhua is run by the country's Communist Party and it rarely, if ever, strays from the party line.

According to the Associated Press:

Experts say China's media expansion also results from unhappiness with much of the international coverage of sensitive events in China such as Tibet and human rights. The government has accused international media organizations of being biased and focused on negative news.

Not surprisingly, Xinhua's own story on the inaugural broadcast says nothing about that, instead focusing on congratulatory letters sent from the major international television news broadcasters and various Chinese government bureaucracies.

So far, CNC appears only to be available in Hong Kong – a logical place for a shakedown before its planned expansion to Europe, North America and Africa by year-end.

The AP story quotes Yuen-ying Chan, director of the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Center:

"At a time when western media is retreating ... China could be flooding the world with its perspective, giving the country a boost of soft power" said Chan. "With a lot of funding and improvements in its reporting, this new expansion should not be written off."

Last year, China's CCTV launched a channel in 22 Arabic-speaking countries.

The new English-language service is promising a blend of about 70 percent international news and 30 percent stories about China.

Xinhua says it will be available on U.S. cable networks starting Oct. 1.

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