Published On: Fri, Jul 24th, 2009

China launches Arabic TV channel

China is launching an Arabic-language TV channel to show the Middle East and North Africa the “real” China.

China Central Television’s station will broadcast news, entertainment and cultural programmes 24 hours a day.

It is part of the Chinese government’s plan to promote its own viewpoints by encouraging state-controlled media organisations to go global.
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Beijing, while saying that some foreign broadcasters misrepresent China, tightly restricts its own media.

‘Distorted views’

“It is imperative for us to be a multi-language, multi-faceted and multi-perspective broadcaster,” said Zhang Changming, vice-president of CCTV.

Speaking at a launch event, he added: “[We hope] the world can know China and China can know the rest of the world even better.”

CCTV already has four international channels that broadcast in English, French and Spanish, as well as Chinese.

The new Arabic channel will be accessible for nearly 300 million people in 22 Arabic-speaking countries from 25 July.

CCTV managers discuss the Arabic channel
CCTV will present the world with the real China
Zhang Changming
Vice-president, CCTV

The broadcaster declined to comment on how much the channel was costing and how many viewers it is hoping to attract.

It will have an initial staff of about 80 and is being fronted by Arabic-speaking Chinese presenters.

Mr Zhang made it clear that the aim was to counter some of the “distorted” views about China that are put out by a number of foreign broadcasters.

“Our principle is to be real, to be objective, to be accurate and transparent. CCTV will present the world with the real China,” he said.

He did not mention that Chinese media outlets are routinely censored by the government and face tight restrictions about what stories they can cover.

Expansion plans

CCTV also plans to launch a Russian-language channel in September and is not the only Chinese media organisation to have expanded.

In April the Chinese-language Global Times newspaper launched an English edition with the aim of promoting Chinese people’s views to foreigners.

China has long complained about what it says are biased and unfair reports about the country carried by foreign media outlets.

There was a government-backed campaign against the “prejudiced” foreign media last year following the unrest in Tibet, which led to death threats to some foreign correspondents based in China.

But China is not the only country broadcasting to the Middle East. Last year the UK’s BBC launched its own publicly funded Arabic TV channel.

By Michael Bristow
Source: BBC News, Beijing

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