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International Herald Leader: The CNC is 100 Days Old

[Editor’s Note: CNC, China’s Xinhua News Network Corporation, is a global TV network under the Chinese government’s Xinhua News Agency. On July 1, 2010, it launched an English channel in Hong Kong, “aiming at the English-speaking audiences around the entire world.” “CNC has entered the same stage as CNN and the BBC.” The following is a translation of an excerpt from an International Herald Leader article “The CNC is 100 Days Old.” It provides some details about the growth of CNC.] [1]

On July 1, 2010, the CNC Chinese channel officially began doing business in Hong Kong, and the English channel was formally launched. A milestone in the history of the CNC television station, development in both Chinese and English was essentially completed on this day.

It was also from that moment that, as a rising star the CNC accelerated its pace in entering the worldwide mainstream TV media market. …

According to Li Zhaokang, the Sales Director of Hong Kong’s Cable TV, since the CNC’s Chinese Channel opened Hong Kong’s Channel 66 cable TV, the average viewership has been about 5,000 people, and the total viewership each week has been about 20,000. When it first opened in July, its ratings were in the middle among the comprehensive news channels, but after one month, its ranking increased significantly and passed the CCTV news channel. Also, some ratings statistics tied with the Phoenix InfoNews channel, and in some weeks were even slightly higher. …

Fan Hua, the Executive Director of CNC’s Chinese Channel, told the International Herald Leader that the station has been relying on the hourly international news as its main focus, and also offers featured news, expert interviews, and social and cultural programs, and has developed into a comprehensive news channel that broadcasts 24/7.

CNC’s English Channel is aimed at English-speaking audiences around the entire world. It focuses on reporting major world news and international events nonstop. Wu Jincai, the Chairman of the Board of Xinhua News Television Network, said that CNC has entered the same stage as CNN and the BBC, even as it learns from these Western mainstream media.

CNC’s growth is indeed accelerating. Director Xing Peiyu, who is responsible for the television network’s outreach tasks, revealed that CNC has achieved satellite coverage for the entire Asia Pacific region in both its Chinese and English programs. On October 1, the Chinese channel also opened in Macao, North America, Europe, and Africa. Planning and discussions about initiating satellite coverage are in full swing. If everything goes smoothly, CNC will have satellite covering over the entire globe by Nov. 7, which is the 79th anniversary of Xinhua News Agency. It will achieve this goal no later than December 1. CNC is also signing contracts with different cable companies overseas to reach local households. In addition, CNC is forming partnerships and alliances with several television stations in Oakland and Los Angeles, and these stations will also broadcast CNN’s programs. …

In a TV manuscript modified personally by Wu Jincai, the original title was “Blog by a Post-90s, Spreading the Message of Toughness and Confidence When Facing Disasters.” [2] However, he changed the title to “The Cell Phone Blog of a Post-90s College Student.” The language was more plain and simple. Why did he change it to this? Ren Libo, the editorial Deputy Director of the CNC Chinese Channel, explained that this was one of the reports on Zhouqu County’s debris-flow disaster in Gansu Province, and “people’s instinctive reaction to natural disasters is fear. In such situations people are naturally fragile. Thus, really, there isn’t much of the ‘toughness’ and ‘confidence’ that we always hear about.”

Wu Jincai said that, because the Chinese people have always lived in an environment that is full of high-spirited slogans, the way they talk has been greatly affected. From giving speeches to everyday chatting, the spoken language often turns into the written language. “For example,” he said, “general statements like ‘the mass’s emotions are stable’ gives others a sense of not being simple or plain.” He summarized that CNC is seeking to get rid of the traditional domestic reporting style, and is trying to build an “international face,” that is, one based on the international way of discourse and the “international heart” that is rooted in the international ideology and way of thinking.

This change is not easy. “The hardest part is to create an international heart,” said Ren Libo. “We need to learn the foreigner’s way of dialogue and also to persuade foreigners to listen to us. We must first learn to speak their language and learn their way of thinking and discourse. Themes such as ‘everyone is equal,’ ‘respect for life,’ ‘protecting the environment,’ and so on, are common to both the Western world and us.” He explained that, with more than 130 branches around the world, CNC has a “global collection of networks” and journalists who are expert in each field. As a result it is not hard to call the news sites directly, acquire an on-site recording, or have expert reviews in the international news broadcasts. However, how to tell these stories, focus on details, and explain them with an everyday way of talking, are issues still being explored.

In the past 100 days, CNC still has not reached the standard of an international-level TV station as laid out by Wu Jincai. He said to the editorial colleagues, “Do not watch CCTV, and watch Phoenix even less. Watch more CNN and BBC.” He even suggested that they watch Taiwan’s ETTV and CTI, and learn from Taiwan’s soft way of expression. …

Hong Kong Baptist University Journalism Professor Huang Yu compared CNC to Al Jazeera located in the Middle East. He said just the fact that Al-Jazeera is headquartered in Qatar in the Middle East, but has still become a highly respected professional and reputable television station, gives Xinhua News Agency and the CNC something to learn and to think about. “Policies and political systems do not necessarily provide reasons for not having a good international news television station. Otherwise one cannot explain the success of Al Jazeera. So from this perspective, we should be confident in CNC Television by Xinhua News Agency.”

[1] Xinhua, October 11, 2010
[2] Translator: In China today, the term “Post-90s” commonly refers to people who were born in the 90s.