Media Digest, January 1-25, 2010

RMB 45 Billion, soft power and global influence

cctv-new-buildingAccording to the story of South China Morning Post (all articles behind a paywall), Beijing will invest RMB 45 billion (about GBP 4.5 billion) in Chinese media organizations which target global audiences. The list will include CCTV, Xinhua and the People’s Daily. China wants it’s own Al-Jazeera.

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. Meanwhile, the Global Times, a daily tabloid owned by the People’s Daily and known for its nationalistic tone, has decided to launch an English edition in May, becoming the second national English newspaper, after China Daily. The paper has begun recruiting English-speaking editors and journalists. CCTV has announced plans to launch Arabic and Russian channels this year, aggressively expanding its team of overseas reporters and recruiting foreign-language professionals.

Below is the comment from Cam MacMurchy at Zhongnanhai Blog,

Isn’t CCTV 9 supposed to present China’s view to the world? Is there a point in lauching a second one without fixing the first? The problem isn’t lack of TV channels or media outlets that present China’s case to foreigners, it’s the lack of any media outlets that present China’s case well. If Xinhua’s new TV endeavor is run in the same manner CCTV is, with the same group of life-long communisty party members in bad suits calling the shots, it will be doomed to failure. In fact, I’d go one step further: any mainland Chinese run media outlet will be taken less seriously as long as general media controls are in place. Which brings me to my second point: the credibility of the media in China. China could open a hundred news organizations and blanket the world with China’s point of view, but it would be greeted with just as much suspicion as it is now because China, despite all of its advancements, remains a one-party state with absolute control over all domestic media.

James Fallows also asked, “Will $6 billion solve the Chinese PR problem?” Nicholas Bequelin at Wall Street Journal Asia described it as “China’s New Propaganda Machine Going Global”. David Bandurski at China Media Project noted the relationship  between “soft power” or “global influence” and the huge investment project. A speech of Li Changchun (李长春) is quoted and translated in the article.

Chinese Internet users hits 298 million

From AP,

China’s fast-growing population of Internet users has risen to 298 million after passing the United States last year to become the world’s largest, a government-sanctioned research group said. The latest figure is a 41.9 percent increase over the same period last year, the China Internet Network Information Center said in a report Tuesday. China’s Internet penetration rate is still low, with just 22.6 percent of its population online, leaving more room for rapid growth, according to CNNIC.

The 23rd Statistical Reports on the Internet Development in China was released by CNNIC on Jan. 13, 2009. You can find the full report (in Chinese) on CNNIC’s website. Keep an eye on this page if you are interested in the forthcoming English version (the last 22 reports are all provided there). Or check the further more details here, a brief translation of the latest report by 56minus1. So many netizens, well, some of them even take on the government.

“Anti-vulgar Internet Crackdown”

jingjingwebpoliceFrom the beginning of 2009, China has already announced 6 blacklists of websites criticized for “low and vulgar practices on the Internet” as part of the latest “Anti-vulgar Internet Crackdown”(整治互联网低俗之风). According to Xinhua, the first blacklist of 19 websites “that provide and spread pornographic or obscene contents”, including searching engines Google, Baidu and major portals such as Sina, Sohu, Netease, QQMicrosoft’s MSN is also in the blacklist of Internet portals providing lewd content. And

This marks a month-long nationwide campaign launched by the Information Office of the State Council, Ministry of Public Security and other four central government departments to clean up the online environment. Those websites were accused of either providing links to pornographic websites or containing porn pictures and failed to take them down after being notified by China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center(CIIRC).

After that, 277 vulgar websites shut down in 11 days. Further more, Anti-porn campaign extends to mobile phone messages (from Xinhua),

The Chinese government is extending its anti-porn campaign to mobile phone messages after shutting down 1,250 websites, it said on Monday. “We will incorporate ‘lewd’ messages spread via mobile phones into the crackdown,” said seven government departments including the State Council’s Information Office, Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Culture who jointly launched the campaign at a meeting, aiming to outline future tasks of the move.

Reuters reports,

Over 40 people have been detained for disseminating porn on the Internet, and over 3 million “items of online information” have been deleted, the report said.

Xinhua also reports that officials will be increasingly vigilant during the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year:

China’s Internet watchdogs Friday vowed to continue a crackdown on pornography and “lewd” content throughout the weeklong Spring Festival holiday in order to protect the nation’s youth. “The campaign has a single and clear goal, that is to clean up the Internet and save the Internet environment for children,” said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the network office of the State Council’s Information Office.

You can find 6 lists (only in Chinese) of websites criticized in the campaign in the website of China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center (中国互联网违法和不良信息举报中心). The last one was unveiled on Jan. 29. During the Campaign, bullog.cn, an edgy China blog site was also shut down. The founder of bullog.cn told The Associated Press that he was notified by an e-mail from the Beijing Communications Administration that the site “contained harmful comments on current affairs and therefore will be closed”. There are some Chinese bloggers’ response to the Internet crackdown translated by China Digital Times.

Other Links you might be interested

This is the first China Media Digest on CMC’s blog. Your comments are welcome. Thanks a lot!
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