Media in China has undergone a sea-change in the age of technology and innovation. No longer is the term ‘media’ synonymous with magazines and newspapers and television; the entire world is slowly going digital and the Chinese media is not far behind.
Chinese television celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago and the main reason for its continued popularity among the masses is that it happens to be a single profit model that is owned by the state. The funding for Chinese television media comes directly from the market and there are over 294 television stations in the country that broadcast 1283 channels to more than 4 million TV sets and 1.2 billion viewers. Despite the advent of the internet, television continues to reign supreme as the most influential form of media in the nation. Every channel in the country is free and citizens of China have access to over 50 free channels, including a few local ones. The advertisement business is booming in China.
The broadcasting and production departments constitute one single entity at the moment but they might become separate in the future following the widespread implementation of digital pay television. This may prove to be both a boon and bane for the people of China. On one hand, it may signify the end of the trend of “life spectacles” and on the other, it could give rise to a new form of media entertainment .
New media in China is comprised of mobile phone technology and the internet and it happens to be entirely commercialized and international. The new media is extremely significant for the expression of public opinion and it can have strong impact on the decisions taken by the Chinese government. New media in China has experienced maturity with time. But it brings with it fresh ethical issues such as reality, eroticism and violence.
Television in China has enjoyed extensive popularity among the public in the past and the scenario is not likely to change in the near future. The first TV station in China, Beijing Television, was launched in the year 1958 during the socialist era. The trend spread like wildfire across the nation and by the end of 1972, almost every province in the country had set up a television station. 1978 marked the launch of the national news program by CCTV known as “Evening News” or “xinwenlianbo”. As the neoliberal age dawned upon China, it brought with it the age of television in the country. Televisions began to become integrated into the lives of the common folk. Developments in technology continued to occur at a rapid pace and it resulted in the shift from black and white TV to colour TV for the first time in China. This was a golden time for television in the nation as most of the households in China had a minimum of one television set that they used on a daily basis to catch the few shows that were broadcast by the government, such as the famous Chinese New Year Evening Gala on CCTV.
A decade later, television had become a common everyday object for the public and all traces of the novelty were lost for the Chinese public. In terms of consumption, television was watched by most Chinese families. The practice slowly evolved from being one of the primary markers of the novelty of modernization, financial reform, improving standards of life and open door policy to a basic, sometimes granted, aspect of everyday life as well as contemporary form of consumerism in China. Reformations began to occur in Chinese television after some time and the first to fall to these changes in the television viewing practices of the Chinese public was CCTV. The issue became clear when it culminated in the rise of private television.
The position of television as the foremost media in China was securely cemented when satellite television programs were broadcast throughout the country via transmission with the help of cable television. Moreover, the Hollywood media firms in the country made their presence felt among the public.
The major forms of television programs that viewers prefer in China include music, sports, game shows, variety shows and reality shows. The viewer base for a specific program depends on their tastes as well as regional variations. The diversification of cable and television channels has led to increased number of programs and channels. A change has been noticed in the viewing habits of the public and home-viewing has become increasingly common .
Media through mobile phones has garnered sufficient popularity in China in recent times to merit its own category. The trend of striking change in the type of social interaction among the urbanites in China was the result of the spread of telecommunications .
In contrast, Chinese radio is a stable segment of the mainstream media that has maintained its popularity among active listeners. In the current age, China has various types of radio. They include administrative radio programs that are broadcast to cities and counties on a national and provincial level and wired and wireless media programs. Radios in China also broadcast programs and contents from the field of business, music, education, story etc.
During the socialist age in China that lasted from the 1940s to the late 70s, radio was one of the most popular forms of media in the entire country and had fans throughout. It earned widespread fame not just within the limits of the city but even in rural regions. The government maintained a wired radio network supported by relay stations. Loudspeakers were set up in places where the public gathered such as government institutions and buildings, playgrounds, factories, street corners, schools. In the end this had far-reaching consequences for the general public since no person was able to escape the voices of the government. In common households, radio receivers were extremely popular and they connected the public with the government via the power of the media.
In the age of new media, Chinese radio must reinvent itself with the aid of media convergence. Online digital radio is important and balance needs to be maintained between radio and other forms of media such as video and sound .
"5 Chinese Radio PDF."
"6 - Chinese Television PDF."
"Chapter 3 - Life Spectacles." n.d. 68-82.
Erwin, Kathleen. "Chapter 7: Heart to Heart, Phone to Phone - Family values, sexuality, and the Politics of Shanghai's Advice Hotlines." n.d. 145-170.