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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works