Murdoch dreams of a Chinese empire

Rupert Murdoch appears to be trying to curry favour in China by showing a much-lauded official documentary series about Deng Xiaoping on the Chinese language channel of his Star-TV Asian satellite broadcasting company.

This is not the first time the media magnate has done his bit to educate the world about China's frail 92-year-old patriarch. In early 1995, his publishing group Harper Collins released the English translation of Deng Xiaoping, My Father, a hagiography written by his daughter, Deng Rong.

The Deng series was made by China Central Television (CCTV) and the Central Communist Party Document Research Department, and has won fulsome praise in China's state-controlled newspapers. The 12 one-hour episodes started nightly on CCTV on 1 January, and on Star's Chinese-language Phoenix Channel on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman at a CCTV agent company yesterday said that two Hong Kong television channels and Japan's NHK had also bought the series, while negotiations were under way with a South Korean channel and an American television company.

Mr Murdoch is still peddling furiously to make up for ground lost in China following a speech in 1993 (which Andrew Neil, the former editor of the Sunday Times, claims to have written) in which he spoke of "advances in the technology of telecommunications [proving to be] an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere". The Chinese government got the hint, and soon imposed strict rules on satellite dishes - thus depriving Mr Murdoch of what was potentially his biggest Asian market. In 1994, Star tried to make amends by removing BBC World Service Television from the satellite beaming into China.

While opening up a pay-TV market on the mainland is Mr Murdoch's most ambitious dream, he has also sought to build a relationship with the Chinese government. In 1995, Mr Murdoch's News Corporation set up the PDN Xinren Information Technology joint venture with the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily.

In November, the head of People's Daily, Shao Huaze, who is also on the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, visited Britain at the invitation of The Times, which is owned by Mr Murdoch. Mr Shao and his delegation stayed at the Ritz, in London, where they received a visit from the Prime Minister, John Major.

Political barriers to foreigners breaking into China's domestic media remain immense. Star claims to have some 36 million viewers watching Phoenix, which is broadcast semi-officially in China through satellite and cable.

However, in August, Li Kehan, the deputy director of China's film and television ministry said bluntly that it was "not possible" that the channel was reaching so many viewers. Hammering his point home, he described Mr Murdoch's television ambitions in China as "beautiful dreams".

Star is clawing back some lost ground in China, particularly in the non- controversial sports arena. But, overall, the Chinese market has proved so difficult for Star that the company is now saying that its main priority in Asia is India.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Recruitment Genius: Help Desk Specialist

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides Reliabili...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Managing Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: Advertisement Sales Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A publishing company based in F...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor