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China’s Changing Media Environment. Foreign Service Institute Oct 2013. BASIC FEATURES OF CHINA’S MEDIA ENVIRONMENT. A controlled media environment where government exercises central control over most aspects of the media BUT

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China’s Changing Media Environment


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    1. China’s Changing Media Environment Foreign Service Institute Oct 2013

    2. BASIC FEATURES OF CHINA’S MEDIA ENVIRONMENT A controlled media environment where government exercises central control over most aspects of the media BUT A rapidly changing media environment where a number of outlets increasingly push the envelope

    3. HOW CHINA CONTROLS ITS MEDIA Oversight of media from highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party

    4. HOW CHINA CONTROLS ITS MEDIA

    5. HOW CHINA CONTROLS ITS MEDIA Politburo Central Committee Propaganda Department Organization Department International Department United Front Work Department

    6. BASIC PILLARS OF THE CHINESE PROPAGANDA SYSTEM Party daily Official news agency Official television network

    7. WHAT CONTROLLED MEDIA LOOK LIKE • Central media carefully crafted to send messages about government policy priorities • Central media tends to be formulaic • When reading this media, you need to learn to read between the lines, decode the signals

    8. LOOSENING OF SOME CONTROLS FROM 1990s • Commercialization and cutting of subsidies for many publications, television networks • Development of new technologies—Internet cell phones and satellite TV-- and greater access to these technologies • China’s accession to WTO in 2000, requiring China to partially open its market to Western media firms • Professionalization of journalism

    9. IMPACT OF COMMERCIALIZATION • Created need to develop content that would appeal to readers, advertisers • Creation of a small but increasing number of quasi-commercial publications that occasionally tend to push the envelope in their reporting

    10. PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: NANFANG DUSHIBAO, 12 Dec 2010

    11. PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: NANFANG DUSHIBAO, 1 Jun 2010

    12. PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: XINJING BAO, 4 Jun 2010

    13. PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: XINJING BAO, 9 Jan 2013

    14. PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: XINKUAI BAO, 23 Oct 2013

    15. IMPACT OF WTO ACCESSION Reorganization of television networks • Creation of a number of regional companies that have often pushed the envelope on programming to attract viewers • Hunan Satellite TV’s “Supergirl” program

    16. Chinese Communist Party’s Ambivalent Approach to the Internet Tool for economic development and strategic messaging BUT Efforts to restrict sensitive content that cross red lines

    17. LARGEST INTERNET POPULATION ON EARTH The Economist, 6 Apr 2013

    18. CHINA’S SOCIAL MEDIA LANDSCAPE

    19. MEET SINA WEIBO

    20. CHINESE INTERNET CONTROLS • External – Great Firewall • Internal – Party retains ability to shut down sectors of Internet within the country • Censorship • Guiding public discussion – 50 Cent Cadre

    21. CENSORSHIP ON SINA WEIBO In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the search results for “Six Four” cannot be displayed

    22. What’s up, doc? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTJmtfjVerw

    23. THE LIMITS OF CONTROL? • The Internet is so large that even with all the party’s resources, some sensitive postings still get through, however briefly • Increasingly savvy social media users adept at getting around party controls

    24. ANALYZING CHINA’S CONTROLLED MEDIA: BASIC PRINCIPLES • Authoritativeness of media vehicles—helps determine level of leadership involvement • Comparison of shifts in media formulas and patterns to help identify policy shifts • Examine media aimed at different audiences to decode policy signals aimed at specific audiences • Look for signals of policy debate, early signs of policy shifts in lower level, less authoritative media

    25. AUTHORITATIVENESS Basic point: All media are NOT created equal • Authoritativeness: the degree to which a report in controlled media reflects the views of the highest levels of the PRC party and government • Examination of the levels of authoritativeness through which PRC media sends messages can shed light on the degree of leadership involvement in and concern over an issue

    26. COMPARISON OF MEDIA FORMULAS AND PATTERNS Basic point: Never take anything at face value • PRC controlled media tends to be formulaic • Comparison of changes in formulas over time can provide insight into changing PRC policy priorities and views • Applies not only to language used in PRC media, but to images, patterns of TV coverage, and placement in a media outlet

    27. CHINA’S CHANGING DESCRIPTIONS OF ITS TIES WITH NORTH KOREA “Closer than lips and teeth 1950s-early 1990s “Brotherly Countries” 2000 “Friendly neighbors” July 2006 “Normal State-to State relations” April 2009

    28. CHANGING MEDIA PATTERNS China Daily website, cartoon in Chinese on North Korean missile launch, entitled “Unrealistic Forward Movement” 14 April 2012

    29. DECODING MESSAGES AIMED AT SPECIFIC AUDIENCES The PRC sometimes uses media outlets aimed at specific audiences to send policy signals to those audiences • China’s official English-language newspaper China Daily • Xinhua’s English-language service

    30. IDENTIFYING SIGNS OF POLICY DEBATE Lower-level, less authoritative media sometimes provide signs of debate • These media are not controlled as rigorously as central media • But because all PRC media are controlled to some extent, views would not appear without some degree of official support, especially in government-affiliated think-tank journals • CAVEAT: While these articles may reflect thinking in some officials circles, they do not speak for the Chinese Government or represent its official, consensus position

    31. SUMMING UP When reading PRC central media, always remember: • Not all media are created equal—pay attention to authoritativeness • Never take anything at face value • Media environments are dynamic and constantly changing • Never take anything for granted

    32. Marcella B Northeast Asia Division, Senior Analyst MarcellB@rccb.osis.gov Jonathan L Northeast Asia Division, Open Source Officer JonathaL@rccb.osis.gov

    33. Backup Slides

    34. PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: XINJINGBAO, May 2012 “In the still of the deep night, removing that mask of insincerity, we say to our true selves ‘I am sorry.’”

    35. LEVELS OF AUTHORITATIVENESS IN PRC MEDIA • Major party documents, government work reports • Statements by PRC leaders—the higher the leader’s rank, the more authoritative the statement is • Renmin Ribao Editorials • Renmin Ribao Commentator Articles • Signed articles in Renmin Ribao—level of authoritativeness depends on who signs them

    36. LEVELS OF AUTHORITATIVENESS—PUBLIC DOCUMENTS • Government statements • Foreign Ministry statements • Statements by Foreign Ministry spokesman, other government spokespersons

    37. IDENTIFYING SIGNS OF POLICY DEBATE Some specialized publications allowed greater scope for debate • Mainly on economic issues • Also some foreign policy issues—relations with Japan, DPRK, China’s role in the world

    38. ROLE OF PRC-OWNED HONG KONG MEDIA • Beijing sometimes uses this media to air issues, send signals it deems too sensitive to discuss in domestic media • Early signs of tougher line toward DPRK • Early signs of opening to the KMT

    39. ROLE OF PRC-OWNED HONG KONG MEDIA WARNING: Not everything in PRC-owned Hong Kong media is a policy signal from Beijing or a sign of debate Articles are more likely to be signals if they: • Quote or are authored by a well-connected PRC scholar • Are picked up by other PRC-owned Hong Kong media outlets • Are picked up or quoted in lower-level mainland media