CGTN (TV channel)

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CGTN
CGTN.svg
CountryChina
Broadcast areaWorldwide
NetworkChina Global Television Network
SloganSee the Difference.
HeadquartersCCTV Beijing Television Centre Headquarters, Beijing Central Business District, Beijing, China
Programming
Language(s)English
Chinese (via SAP)
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to 4:3 576i for the SDTV feed)
Ownership
OwnerChina China Media Group
(Government of the People's Republic of China)
History
Launched20 September 1997; 23 years ago (1997-09-20)
Former namesCCTV-9
(1997–2010)
CCTV News
(2010–2016)
Links
WebsiteCGTN
Availability
Terrestrial
Digital terrestrial television
(China)
various
Digital terrestrial television
(United States)
Channel 31.9 (Los Angeles)
Channel 36.3 (San Francisco)
Channel 61.2 (Chicago)
Channel 32.2 (Santa Barbara)
Freeview
(United Kingdom)
Channel 236
Oqaab (Afghanistan)Channel 31
UHF Colombo-FTA (Sri Lanka)Channel 29 (SD)
Cable
CBC Multichoice Television (Barbados)Channel 209[1]
Dish Network (USA)Channel 279
DirecTV (USA)Channel 2053
Channel 2119 (Cantonese feed)
Streaming media
CGTN LiveWatch Live

CGTN (China Global Television Network), formerly known as CCTV-9 and CCTV News, is an international English-language news channel based in Beijing owned by China Central Television, a state-owned broadcaster. A part of the China Global Television Network group, it is owned and operated by China Central Television (CCTV), a state-owned media organization of China, under the control of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party.[2] The service is aimed at the overseas market, and it was launched on 25 September 2000. Coverage includes newscasts, in-depth reports, and commentary programs, as well as feature presentations. Its free-to-air satellite signal is received in over 100 countries. It has been referred to as a mouthpiece of the Chinese government,[3][4] being part of its propaganda machine.

CGTN is registered as a foreign agent in the US.[5] In February 2020, the United States Department of State designated CGTN and other Chinese state-owned media outlets as "foreign missions."[6]

History[edit]

CCTV began considering English-language international news programming on 1 January 1979, at the start of China's "Reform and opening up" period. English news bulletins began on CCTV-2 in 1986 and became available to overseas viewers when they moved to CCTV-4 in February 1991. CCTV-9 began broadcasting across China on 25 September 2000, becoming the country's first all-English television station.

On 1 January 2003, CCTV-9 entered the United States cable market, as part of a deal that allowed AOL, Time Warner, and News Corporation access to cable systems in Guangdong. In its early years, CCTV-9 broadcast English language news bulletins and cultural interest shows for most of each day, and aired mostly reruns during the overnight hours in China. One of its biggest projects was covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Until April 2010, CCTV-9 was a mixed general interest channel featuring news, travel programming, and language training. But on the 26th of that month, CCTV-9 was relaunched as a 24-hour English-language news service, and its name was changed to "CCTV News."[7]

At 04:00 London Time/12:00 Beijing Time, on 31 December 2016 the channel was relaunched as CGTN (China Global Television Network), and new programs debuted with the first programme Global Watch and first news anchored by Rachel Bubble.

In 2018 Kong Linlin, a CGTN reporter, verbally accosted a panel at the Conservative Party Conference and accused them, among other things, of being "fake Chinese". After being asked to leave she assaulted another attendee.[8]

Relaunch[edit]

The channel name of CCTV-9 was changed to CCTV News on 26 April 2010.[9] Some shows were rebranded while other new programs were added. The English website is managed by China Network Television (CNTV), a web streaming service of CCTV. On 1 January 2011, the channel's former name CCTV-9 was taken over by CCTV's two documentary channels.

With new faces, new studios, and new equipment, the channel's upper managers said they hoped to strengthen the network's news gathering abilities, while aiming to present more perspectives from throughout China, and across Asia, to the rest of the world.[10] The next steps in this process included hiring additional foreign correspondents and setting up a number of international bureaus.

On 6 February 2012, the channel launched "CCTV America" and a schedule of daily programming originating from a production center in Washington, D.C.[11] On 11 October 2012, CCTV News launched its Africa operation in Nairobi, Kenya.[12] CCTV News currently has three broadcast centers—Beijing (main), Nairobi, and Washington—with 70 additional bureaus across the globe.

The revamp also saw the permanent addition of news and world financial markets tickers, similar to those seen on leading news channels, although these features had already been used intermittently in the previous decade.[citation needed]

Programming[edit]

CGTN usually airs a live news bulletin in the first half of each hour. As well as the standard news strand The World Today (which broadcasts 15 times a day, 7 days a week), there are specialist bulletins focusing on Chinese and Asian news, such as China 24 and business news (with regional variations) Global Business. Programming in the second half of each hour includes, sports bulletins, a travel show called Travelogue which takes viewers to destinations around China and the world, and magazines covering the arts, science and sports.

The news programs on CGTN include Africa Live, Americas Now and Asia Today, providing comprehensive news coverage that caters to the respective continents. The Link is a mix of the three aforementioned programs, though it still has an international appeal. Global Watch features a Chinese perspective on the news. Specialized programs include New Money, Matchpoint, Global Business, Culture Express and Sports Scene, providing news and information on business, finance, economics, culture, and sports. Shows such as Dialogue and World Insight extend balanced and critical perspectives on current affairs affecting all corners of the globe.

CGTN also provides programs on culture, history, and modern society of China and Asia. In Crossover, hosts and guests of various backgrounds and experiences talk about issues throughout China. Travelogue is the ticket to dynamic and exciting landscapes in China and abroad. Rediscovering China explores contemporary Chinese and Asian culture and social changes through the eyes of international visitors. Finally, Faces of Africa delivers African human interest stories.

Staff[edit]

The Chinese staff members at CGTN English range in experience from interns to media professionals with years in the business. Executive producers, producers and senior news anchors typically have higher education, often from universities in other countries. By 2007, the channel had about 300 staff members, of whom 70 were full-time with about 30 foreigners on contract. Ahead of the channel's 2010 relaunch, it began to hire foreign correspondents based in countries around the world, and in 2011 CCTV News started to hire English-speaking Chinese reporters based in 30 provincial bureaus across China.

Foreign news anchors[edit]

In addition to Chinese anchors, CGTN employs foreigners as news presenters, some of whom have extensive experience, such as Edwin Maher (a former newsreader and weatherman from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), while others may be recent university graduates just embarking upon their careers.

Former comptroller Jiang Heping defended the policy of putting foreigners on air, arguing that "we feel international on-air personalities boost the credibility of CGTN and befit its image as an international channel. In this regard, CGTN will not restrict the origin of its employees and choose to build its unique identity through its programming."[13]

The first foreign news anchor on what was then known as CCTV-9 was Chris Gelken, who joined the channel from Hong Kong's TVB and presented the 30-minute business show, BizChina. Gelken left CCTV News in 2005, and returned to TVB from 2010 to 2013.

Another prominent personality in CCTV-9's first decade was Mark Rowswell, otherwise known as Dashan. He hosted Travel in Chinese on CCTV News and has been honored for his work in promoting cancer awareness in China.[14]

In addition to those individuals, the channel later recruited Phillip Yin of Bloomberg Television, and Mike Walter from USA Today, to helm Biz Asia America and The Heat, respectively, when the Washington bureau opened in 2012.

The weather on CGTN is hosted by a rotating cast of presenters, so the staff changes on a frequent basis, partially because these updates are produced by an outside company which supplies content for several English-language media outlets around China.

CGTN Africa[edit]

CCTV Africa is China Central Television's news productions center which was launched in Kenya on 11 January 2012. CGTN Africa focuses on African news and perspectives as well as international news.

CGTN Africa is responsible for newsgathering and task assignments on the African continent. CGTN Africa initially produce a one-hour program every day, including Africa news, Talk Africa and Face of Africa editions, and broadcast through CGTN's English news channel.

CGTN America[edit]

CGTN America is the Americas division of CGTN the English-language news channel run by Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television. It is based in Washington, DC and runs bureaus across North and South America. The service employs a mix of American and Chinese journalists and produces Americas-based programming for CGTN and CCTV.

CGTN America is led by director general Ma Jing with veteran Asia journalist Jim Laurie as executive consultant. It began broadcasting on 6 February 2012.

Notable personalities[edit]

Current[edit]

Former[edit]

Awards[edit]

In 2010, the CCTV-NEWS won the National Window award at 2010's Hot Bird TV awards.[17]

The channel's Washington, DC based broadcast center, CGTN America, has won a News & Documentary Emmy for Jen Bricker: When Can't is a Four-Letter Word, and has also won multiple New York Festivals medals and White House News Photographers Association awards.[18][19]

Criticism[edit]

Accusations of bias[edit]

Despite its revamp launching of CCTV America, critics have voiced concerns over the level of self-censorship exercised by the channel, especially on sensitive domestic issues in China. Philip Cunningham of Cornell University, who has appeared more than 100 times on China Central Television talk shows said sensitive issues such as Tibet and Xinjiang were heavily edited on various programs.[20] Ma Jing, Director of CCTV America defends such allegation by saying that the channel edits stories the same way other news organizations do. She said: "We uphold the traditional journalistic values. We consider accuracy, objectivity, truthfulness, and public accountability very important, more important than anything else."[20]

The UK's Ofcom is inquiring into alleged state bias over its coverage of the Hong Kong protests since September 2019.[21]

Accessory to torture and forced confessions[edit]

On 23 November 2018, a British corporate investigator named Peter Humphrey submitted a formal complaint[22] to the United Kingdom's government communications regulator The Office of Communications, or Ofcom, maintaining he was forced under duress to confess on air over Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television's (CCTV) network and that, as the confession was subsequently broadcast[23] over the international arm of CCTV, China Global Television Network (CGTN), CGTN itself should be held culpable by Ofcom and denied the right to operate its broadcast service in the U.K. Humphrey's complaint cited two films produced by CCTV and additionally aired in the UK by CGTN, stating that both were scripted and directed by the Chinese police, the public security bureau, while he was a prisoner, in conditions of duress amounting to torture.[24][25] One such confession, staged in August 2013, was filmed by a CCTV crew with Humphrey locked in an iron chair inside a steel cage, wearing handcuffs and an orange prison vest. This was before he had been indicted, tried or convicted of a crime. The second, in July 2014, was once again filmed by CCTV, not in a cage this time, but still in a prison vest and handcuffs, before he had been tried or convicted on the charge of illegal information gathering.[26] Reportedly Ofcom has said it is investigating the complaint and would "take necessary enforcement action" if rules are determined to have been violated.[22][27]

In November 2019, CGTN aired a video of a UK consular employee, Simon Cheng, in captivity "confessing" to consorting with prostitutes. Within a week, Cheng had filed a new complaint to Ofcom.[28]

Foreign state agent[edit]

During Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping's tour of state media outlets in February 2016, he emphasized that they must "speak for the Party", and, further, that they must expand their influence abroad in order to "tell China’s story to the world". The Guardian's Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin wrote that while the "[China] Communist Party has always maintained a tight grip over domestic media, their strategy has shifted in recent years to spread that control globally", by "exerting their influence on media abroad, through a multifaceted approach that includes offering generous salary packages to recruit talented journalists away from local media in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere; buying advertising supplements in mainstream foreign publications; buying foreign media companies outright; and making deals with local broadcasters in Africa and elsewhere to spread their content in local markets". One result of the China Communist Party's international media strategy has been the elimination of the independent Chinese-language media outlets in the United States, "through a mix of co-option and aggressive expansion of its own competitors".[29] Alongside their international media strategy, the Chinese Communist Party has also stepped up the use of "Pro-Beijing trolls -- the so-called 50-cent army, named for the price they are supposedly paid for each post" plus the "state-backed media and botnets [who] have been employed to pump out huge quantities of disinformation and misinformation" on social media platforms like Twitter.[30][31]

CGTN initially claimed that it had "editorial independence from any state direction or control". This was debunked by The New York Times reporter Paul Mozur in interviews with "current and former CGTN employees [who] say CCTV editors in Beijing often dictated plans for covering China. American employees sometimes pushed back, they said, and Ms. Ma allowed some flexibility when Beijing’s orders didn’t specifically forbid or dictate content. But three people interviewed said they had little choice but to air propaganda clips when Beijing said so".[32][29] CGTN employees were disciplined when a news report mentioned Falun Gong, the religious group labeled as a cult and banned by the PRC. The Flag of the Republic of China, which the PRC does not recognize, are banned from broadcasts. In November 2018, amid growing international criticism of China's imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs in indoctrination camp programs designed to discourage Islam, CGTN America aired a pro-Beijing documentary portraying the camps as successful vocational training and antiterrorism centers and Uighurs as grateful.[33] In addition, CGTN America has broadcast "exclusive" coerced confessions of people accused of a wide variety of crimes in China, most notably the example of a Briton, Peter Humphrey.[4] In addition, some CGTN journalists "recall being asked to cross a sometimes blurred line between news reporting and intelligence gathering as they were asked to report on high-level government meetings".[29] International observers noted that while RT (formerly Russia Today) aims to divide its audience with controversial content, the "aim [of CGTN] is to influence public opinion overseas in order to nudge foreign governments into making policies favourable towards China’s Communist party" through more subtle means.[29]

The United States Department of State characterised "CGTN America’s relationship with a foreign government and a foreign political party as one of interest to Washington". The United States Department of Justice was concerned about an "expanding influence campaign being waged by Beijing through the global arms of state media outlets" like CGTN and Xinhua News Agency.[34][5] In putting pressure upon Xinhua and CGTN, a senior US official noted that US grievances towards the lack of reciprocity from Beijing on trade and media access as many American and international news outlets are blocked in China.[35] CGTN America said in its filings stamped 1 Feb. 2019 that it disagreed with the Justice Department's decision, but has registered as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.[36] While this permits them to continue operating in the United States, they are required to disclose information about their annual budget and ownership structure, while also including disclaimers on broadcasts, published materials and social media identifying themselves as registered foreign agents. After registering with the FARA, CGTN America director general Ma Jing and a dozen other staffers were recalled to Beijing.[37]

On 18 September 2019, Nick Pollard, a veteran British TV executive, resigned from his post as consultant and advisor to CGTN, giving his reason for leaving as being CGTN's failure to comply with Ofcom's rules on impartiality in connection to its coverage of the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests.[38] He had joined CGTN in December 2018.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MCTV - Digital, Barbados
  2. ^ "China is spending billions on its foreign-language media". The Economist. 14 June 2018. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  3. ^ Stankiewicz, Kevin (3 September 2019). "Chinese people find Trump 'perplexing and exhausting' on trade war, says state-run TV host". CNBC. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
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  11. ^ About CCTV America Archived 10 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Archived 10 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine CCTV America
  12. ^ About CCTV Africa Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine CCTV Africa
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External links[edit]