Friday, May 28, 2010

Media: China communicates with foreign media professionals

Liu Yunshan, director of the publicity department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

By Madhu Datta
Republished courtesy of : IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BEIJING (IDN) – Who is afraid of “creativity, credibility, rights and responsibilities” of the media? Certainly not China – particularly when it comes to projecting the image of a modern and vibrant country.

For this, the Asia Media Summit 2010 in Beijing – organized by the inter-governmental Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) – provided an ideal opportunity.

The summit’s theme, said Liu Yunshan, director of the publicity department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reflected “the thoughts and concerns of the media world for its own future as well as the attention and expectations of the international community for media responsibility”.

Addressing some 800 participants at the opening ceremony on May 25, the CPC’s politburo member Liu Yunshan explained: “Our media have always been encouraged and endorsed to put social responsibilities in the first place to promote justice, express public opinion, give guidance on hotspots, relieve popular emotions and guarantee supervision by public opinion, whereby people’s rights to information, participation, expression and supervision are guaranteed.”

These remarks met with general scepticism among the participants from Asia-Pacific, Arab countries, Africa, Europe, and North America. They included media managers and working journalists.

It is an open secret that the editorial independence of "big three" media outlets in China – the People's Daily, Xinhua news agency and the Chinese Central TV (CCTV), which co-sponsored the Asia Media Summit (AMS) along with UNESCO and UNEP – is subject to government policy considerations.

Journalists working for CCTV News International (formerly CCTV-9) are under constant pressure to present a positive account of China, according to a study published in 2008 by Anne-Marie Brady, an eminent researcher.

"In August 2005, a series of items reported factually on coal mining disaster in China; soon after the channel's leaders received a warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that its reports were harming China's international image. Following this incident, senior editorial staff and journalists were all forced to write self-criticisms," the study pointed out.

A foreign journalist working for CCTV however maintained that things have improved since and significantly enough the journalists referred to in the 2008 study were not dismissed.

“The Chinese government places in a more prominent position the development of culture and the cultural industry, giving more emphasis to culture building and growth of the media industry,” Liu told participants, adding: “This not only provides new opportunities for China’s radio and TV sector, but also a wider horizon for further international exchanges and cooperation.”


Much to the interest of AMS participants, Liu said, China will create conditions to facilitate international exchanges and cooperation in the media sector and dialogues among civilizations.

“It is our hope that on the basis of ‘equality, mutual benefit and mutual success’, media of all countries, Asia-Pacific, in particular, will strengthen cooperation in news communication, human resources, information technology and business operations, exchange experience, seek greater consensus and share each other’s resources.”

Expanding on the theme, Liu’s deputy Wang Taihua said: “While seeking exchanges and practical cooperation with out counterparts in other countries and regions in the spirit of ‘mutual trust, coordination and mutual success’, we make consistent efforts and a unique contribution to increasing understanding and friendship among peoples of different countries, safeguarding world peace and stability and realizing common development.”

Observers noted that Liu left the opening session because of “prior engagements” before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message was read out by Kiyo Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information.

The message pointed out, among others: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations works to uphold this right around the world.

“But in many countries, including in this region (Asia-Pacific), journalists risk intimidation, detention and even their lives, simply for doing their jobs.”

Kiyo Akasaka went on to read from Ban’s message: “In some countries, independent television and radio channels are denied broadcasting right. In others, the authorities impose high taxes on newsprint so that only the wealthy are able to buy newspapers. Elsewhere, the censors monitor internet use and imprison citizen journalists.

“In every case, it is a denial of fundamental human rights, and an obstacle to social and economic development.

“The United Nations stands against the silencing of the media and with those who work to keep the powerful accountable, in every country.”

Observers noted that though the points of criticism expressed in Ban’s message do not apply only to China, but the message clearly pointed the finger at China.


Nevertheless, Wang, Minister of the SARFT and deputy director of the publicity department of central committee of the CPC, went some steps further to inform AMS participants about the country’s media policy.

In a keynote address, Wang said: “The Chinese government attaches great importance to the development of radio and TV and their role in political, economic and social progress.”

Presently, he said, China has 251 radio stations, 272 TV stations, 2087 radio-and-TV stations as well as 44 education TV stations.

With cable, terrestrial, satellite and other means, China has established a radio and TV network reaching the largest audience in the world, covering 96.31 percent and 97.23 percent of China’s population respectively for radio and TV – a gigantic achievement, indeed.

“This network not only communicates information and provides entertainment but also shoulders missions of advancing education, protecting and developing cultural diversity, and advancing social harmony and progress,” Wang stated.

Accommodating new developments and needs, he said, China will accelerate steps in reform, innovation and development in the radio and TV sector according to the actual circumstances in China.

In particular, China will push forward with digital radio and TV and use digital technology to upgrade conventional media, develop new media, and improve audience penetration and security in broadcasting.

In its seventh year, the Asia Media Summit was held for the first time in Beijing on May 25-26, 2010 – and it was, according to AIBD Director Javad Mottaghi, who takes over as Secretary-General of the Asia Broadcasting Union (ABU), the “most successful”.

The Voice of Vietnam (VOV) has invited AIBD to organize next year’s AMS at Hanoi.

VOV strives to offer diverse, high-quality programming and in every aspect of mass media. It broadcasts on many channels, repeated on Medium wave (MW) AM, FM and shortwave (SW) AM bands throughout Vietnam and the rest of the world.

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