State media

Rumors about Hunan TV News, but no challenge for CCTV


Is Hunan TV cooking up a competitor to CCTV's evening news program?

An article that's making the rounds of domestic BBSs claims, without naming any sources, that Hunan TV has applied to SARFT to gain an exemption from CCTV's 7pm Network News Broadcast, which is carried on major local and satellite stations across the country. This exemption, the article states, would make Hunan TV the second major station in the country, after Shanghai's Dragon TV, to offer an alternative to CCTV's monopoly on 7-o'clock news (this is not entirely accurate; see below).

Replacing CCTV's half hour of state visits and political buzzwords would be a new, "alternative" news show presented in Hunan TV's own unique voice and divided into three segments. The article gives a surprisingly precise schedule:

  • "Cold News" (11 minutes): Sober, more negative subject matter, national in scope;
  • "Hot News" (13 minutes): A collection of uplifting news bites;
  • "In My Words" (6 minutes): On-the-spot interviews in various parts of the country.

The article speaks of a liberalizing media landscape that allows for a transformation of the traditional news-gathering paradigm:

Many news reports would come out of exclusive partnerships with national-level media organizations like CNN and the BBC and would expose various issues that exist concerning society and behavior in China, analysing China's present and future from an outsider's perspective and placing China's problems before world-class experts. Such a reform has been long-awaited in today's increasingly-tolerant media environment.

Although Hunan TV is a threat to CCTV in the realm of entertainment programming, news is a different subject altogether, making this report a little hard to believe.

Once the article hit the popular Tianya BBS, it caught the attention of the mainstream media. Yesterday, the Mirror contacted Hunan TV and was informed that the station has no plans to replace the Network News Broadcast, either with its own new program or with some other entertainment show, as other rumors had suggested. The spokesperson did acknowledge that the station is retooling its programming lineup, and that some current programs may be replaced in the future.

Although many CCTV critics would like to see a viable alternative to the nightly Network News, a commenter on a Hunan-based BBS makes it clear that now is not yet the time:

Neither the author nor the contents of this thing look entirely above-board:

1. Dragon TV has already begun rebroadcasting the Network News. True, when Shanghai TV started being carried on satellite it didn't rebroadcast CCTV's Network News, but it never went head-to-head with CCTV in that time slot. At first, it re-aired local broadcast stations' entertainment programs at 7pm, and then it shared a live sports broadcast with the Five Star Sports channel. Even after it changed into Dragon TV, it only aired international news at 7pm - first the Global News Station, then Dragon News. And even this was replaced in 2007 by CCTV's Network News.

2. Hunan TV isn't comparable to Dragon TV. Dragon TV isn't just one channel from SMG; STV-1, "General News," is its local flagship station, and that station airs local news from 6:30 to 7:30, without rebroadcasting Network News. Hunan TV is the main station of GBS, so being exempt from the Network News Broadcast is unimaginable.

Think back to this year's Olympics and Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies: at 7pm on the dot, all channels carried by satellite (not just the satellite stations) broadcast CCTV-1's feed without superimposing their own logo. Commercials and all. This tells you that the above report has only a tiny chance of being possible.

3. Hunan TV can't do news. It lacks the hardware, the software, and a presentable host. (Hunan Network News once changed itself into New Network Broadcast, overhauling even the language used, but it was shut down by the provincial party committee after just a few days.) People who don't watch the Network News Broadcast at 7pm will be hard to convince to watch Hunan TV's own news program.

4. Don't look to Hunan TV to come up with a program like BBC World News Today or Al Jazeera News Hour. Even if the domestic system permitted it, Hunan doesn't have the financial resources. Even if it did, the country doesn't have the caliber of reporters and anchors.

The original article closed with an unrelated, anonymously-sourced claim that Hunan TV would broadcast its own Spring Festival variety show directly opposite CCTV's national gala in 2009. Although it has yet to be confirmed, that's a much more believable rumor.

Links and Sources
There are currently 2 Comments for Rumors about Hunan TV News, but no challenge for CCTV.

Comments on Rumors about Hunan TV News, but no challenge for CCTV

Hunan TV's specialty is entertainment. I don't think they have the sophistication to pull off a news program on the same level as CCTV's evening news... though I'm not sure I'd call the 7pm broadcast "news", more like an infomercial. I look back fondly on the days when Dragon TV had real news at 7pm.

Dragon TV news still "shares" its newsroom resources with CCTV, ie. if Dragon TV news films an item that CCTV news wants it takes. The hierarchy is still properly adhered to.
Hunan probably would do stripper news broadcasts, if they could get away with it, a la their 'fashion weather' a while back. And ripping feeds off foreign satellite broadcasts wouldn't bother them either, if only it was allowed...(ahem)

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives