China Central Television: Never Easy There…

Posted by on Apr 25, 2014 in Chang'anjie Media Notebook, China, Media | No Comments

22:40 (UTC+08:00), 25 APR 2014 | CHN BEIJING

Circulated rumours that you have to claim wages by presenting official receipts seem to be the least of China Central TV’s issues, apparently. The bigger issue is how CCTV can — yes, remain itself.

To many an outsider, CCTV is that one monster that seems untouchable. Those not retransmitting its “flagship” 19:00 news programme are far more the exception than the rule. And yet, the TV channel itself is under massive pressure to be:

  • an outlet for official government news / propaganda; and
  • increasingly financially self-sustaining as Beijing feeds it less cash; and
  • as of around 2003, a service public broadcaster.

Talk about tall orders!

It is the curious co-presence of the first two that must make life difficult at Big Pants, Central TV’s new HQ. Logic dictates that if you’re a propaganda machine, the government should be able to feed you so that you can be a reliable mouthpiece. This was certainly true under Mao; since Deng, though, things have changed.

The curious mix between an obligation to continue disseminating official propaganda and making enough money on its own is probably why the 5-second ad slot right before the start of the main 19:00 news show (often predictably filled with a healthy dose of -isms) is amongst, if not the very most expensive 5-second ad slot on the whole network — and probably in the whole land as well.

Nobody ever said making sense of CCTV was going to be easy…