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China state broadcaster CCTV launches global media network to help rebrand China overseas

The government has spent vast sums to enhance its own influence and shape global opinion

Samuel Osborne
Saturday 31 December 2016 11:47 GMT
President Xi Jinping urged the newly launched network to 'tell China's story well'
President Xi Jinping urged the newly launched network to 'tell China's story well'

China Central Television (CCTV), the country’s largest and most important TV network, said it will launch a new global platform on New Year's Day to help rebrand China overseas.

The state broadcaster published a congratulatory letter from President Xi Jinping, urging the newly launched China Global Television Network to “tell China's story well, spread China's voice well, let the world know a three-dimensional, colourful China, and showcase China's role as a builder of world peace”.

The government has long complained about the Western news media’s hold on international discourse and in recent years has spent vast sums to enhance its own influence and shape global opinion, with CCTV as one of its spearheads.

China wants to rate its citizens

The broadcaster has channels in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian and production centres in Washington and Nairobi.

The new multilingual media cluster will have six TV channels, a video newsletter agency and a new media agency.

China has been extending its global influence with “soft power” tactics, such as launching new English language media and auditioning international public relations firms to tailor its branding strategy.

In the past year, Mr Xi has tightened the ruling Communist Party's control over state media outlets, while rearticulating their core mission to serve as the government’s mouthpiece.

CCTV and the official Xinhua News Agency have expanded aggressively in recent years, with dual missions to become globally credible media heavyweights while sustaining their roles as vital propaganda organs of the Communist Party.

China announced a plan in 2009 to spend 45 billion yuan (£5.2bn) to help spread its message abroad.

In the years since, CCTV and Xinhua have leased a giant display in New York's Times Square that has, among other things, broadcast videos arguing China's position on the South China Sea territorial dispute.

They have also deployed vast numbers of journalists to produce extensive daily reports from around the world, including from countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, where Western media presences are shrinking amid vanishing budgets.

Additional reporting by agencies

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