Developments and New Approaches of Internationalizing China's Media: A Case Study of China Global Television Network (CGTN) in Witness Perspective
1School of Journalism, Communication University of China, P.R. China
2Department of Communication, New York State University at Buffalo, USA
- *Corresponding Author:
- Lu Sun
Doctoral Student at School of Journalism
Communication University of China, P.R.
Tel: (+1)7167300152; (+86)13683019228
Received Date: July 28, 2018; Accepted Date: August 06, 2018; Published Date: August 16, 2018
Citation: Sun L. Developments and New Approaches of Internationalizing China's Media: A Case Study of China Global Television Network (CGTN) in Witness Perspective. Global Media Journal 2018, 16:31.
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China Global Television Network (CGTN, launched on December 31, 2016) is a multi-language, multi-platform media group (previously known as a part of CCTV). This article will offer an inside-out perspective by illustrating its motivations, developments, new approaches and implications. Willing to improve the image of China in the world, CGTN aims to tell the story of China in its own way in the "going global" context. As for motivations of establishment, CGTN desires to be one of the world-famous news media in global communication rather than merely within the governmental sphere and to influence both television channels and social networks to attract users. In addition, CGTN adopts several strategies and new approaches in the process of internationalizing: globalization, localization, and socialization. Although accomplishments have been achieved, complicated barriers still exist in the long run.
Internationalizing; CGTN; China's media.
China Global Television Network (CGTN)1, is a multi-language,
multi-platform media group consisting of six television channels
and including a 24-hour English-language news channel, a video
content provider and a digital media division.2 Former channels
under CCTV (China Central Television) brand were simultaneously
re-launched on December 31, 2016.3 CCTV-4, the international channel in Mandarin Chinese, is not a part of this relatively new
brand. In March 2018, CGTN became one part of China Media
Group, the newly established mainstream state radio and
television broadcaster in P.R. China (Table 1).
Table 1: Information of CGTN Channels.
CGTN releases news around the world through its headquarters
in Beijing. Moreover, there are overseas subsidiary institutes
including the American branch in Washington D.C. and the
African operation in Nairobi as well as other overseas affiliated
institutions. In addition, its the third branch operation in London
is now under construction.
A significant decision was made top-down during 13th National
People's Congress in 2018, which reconstructed the system of
media in China. The merger meant that the following leading
mainstream media would launch a brand-new China Media
Group (CMG, literally called "The Voice of China" in Chinese):
China Central Television (CCTV), China Global Television Network
(CGTN), China National Radio (CNR) and China Radio International
(CRI) (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Illustration on the relationship between CGTN and CMG.
Research Object and Questions
The object of this research is to elaborate on the internationalizing process of CGTN by focusing on three key aspects: motivations,
challenges and implications.
Q1: What is the motivation for the launching of CGTN?
Q2: What are the developments and new approaches implemented
Q3: What are the challenges and implications for CGTN as well as
the tendency to internationalize of China's media in the future?
The booming of digital media4 offers versatile opportunities and
yet shifts circumstance in global communication. Emerging media
and Digital technologies are relatively new social phenomena. In
this sense, theories  which claim that digital technologies have
produced or are about to produce such radical changes confuse
the temporality of technical innovations with the temporality of
social evolutions . The use of the Internet has already become
"an embedded, embodied, everyday experience" .
The need for international or global communication was due to
the increasing effects and influences of globalization. International
communication "encompasses political, economic, social, cultural
and military concerns" . The rise of new media has allowed people to express themselves through blogs, websites, pictures,
and other user-generated media. This perspective suggests that
"the process of globalization is a determining factor"  in China's
aspiration to open itself to the world.
Media technologies are adopted and promoted by many countries
to promote economic growth. Governments of developing
countries and international agencies a like view technology
as a tool for leapfrogging developed countries and creating a
knowledge economy. The ways in which a community uses and
perceives media technology can affect the political, economic,
and social development of the community in question.
Globalization has now more effectively interconnected crossrelations
amid international companies, communities, and
organizations than it did in the past. Any changes witnessed in
any given community can now more quickly and effectively reach
other groups via news, social reactions, etc. Within the digital
media context, intercultural communication has gained further
This article applies one case study to present the CGTN's historic
context, current situation and implications by using literature
analysis and in-depth interviews. These interviews were
conducted by the author while performing internship at the
Beijing headquarters and visiting CGTN America in Washington
Motivations: The context of going Global5
Individuals cannot understand a society's contemporary policy
in-depth without taking its social context into consideration.
The progressive rise of China's comprehensive national strength
and important international status has pushed the Chinese
government to shift its policy from "keeping a low-profile" to a
relatively more public initiative "going global", especially after
Chinese president Xi Jingping took his office in 2012. It reflects the
utterances and discourses in social culture and media coverage.
The globalization and internationalizing process of Chinese
media have become an essential part of China’s "going out"
strategy, which means that China tries to improve its world-wide
reputation and at the same time promote its national image by
using its media, when encountering negative remarks especially
concerning stereotypes in the international sphere.
The implementation of CGTN and establishment of China
Media Group (CMG) represent the unprecedented expansion of
Chinese global media. Meanwhile, the reshaping of global media
landscape also has triggered unexpected consequences: pros and
cons go hand in hand.
Thussu assumes that the global expansion of Chinese media
"reflect[s] the recognition by the Beijing authorities of the
importance of the English language as the key to success for
global commerce and communication and their strategy to bring
Chinese public diplomacy to a global audience".6
At the same time, some scholars put forward the controversial
concept of "sharp power"7 following the well-established "hard
power" and "soft power". Walker C, Ludwig J asserted that some
countries, China, in particular, attempt to alter international views
to their advantage, which is a threat to vulnerable democracies.
However, China does not agree with their way of thinking. By
establishing and promoting the global media, China would like
to "tell its story to the global audiences in their own way" in
response to being portrayed as biased.
Media landscape around the World
There are many renowned international news outlets such as
BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera. In recent years RT8 (Russia Today) rose
to fame swiftly which also set an example for China. RT is intended
to improve the image of Russia abroad in "a Russian viewpoint
on major global events". As a regrouped and newly established
institute in 2005, the expansion of RT challenges the US-dominant
global news pattern.
Another example is Singapore. Under the "neo-development media model", Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)9 and MediaCorp10 are two main multi-media groups. The Media’s role in this model
is to bring unity to a country and to support the "nation comes
Although nearly all media outlets in China are still state-owned
and operated, the media has undergone the most salient changes
in the country’s history since China started its economic reform
in 1978 .
Some scholars  assert that "authoritarian liberalism"11 form is favored by the Chinese state; whereas, the Chinese
government is more accepting of a "development media model"
which emphasizes on the media's positive function to promote
Developments and New Approaches
CGTN adopted several strategies and new approaches in the
process of Internationalizing: globalization, localization and
CGTN aims to avoid the traditional role of mouthpiece for Chinese
government. Consequently, as for the content and discourse of
its coverage, CGTN pays more attention to culture and social
issues rather than political doctrine discourse in the eyes of
overseas audiences. This also illustrates why it implemented
"global" to depict itself. International communication emphasizes
on communication between and among nation-states, whereas
he term "global" implies a declining role of the state and state
sovereignty. In addition, global communication has more versatile
facets besides communication between or among governments.
Global communication is the ability to provide and access
information across cultures12, multinational enterprisers, nongovernment
organizations, transnational media corporations,
cross-culture interpersonal communication, global public sphere
etc. This also matters especially where language and cultural
barriers can impact efficiency. CGTN's enjoys much looser
regulation and relative freedom from the government, yet its
ownership is still unchanged (state-owned).
While CGTN's headquarter is located in Beijing, it has worldwide
overseas branches: CGTN America broadcast center is based in
Washington D.C., CGTN Africa is in Nairobi and a European branch
under-construction in London.
CGTN makes full use of localization strategies by hiring local
international staff, which are familiar with native culture
and already had a good reputation to attract the audiences.
Meanwhile, the majority of CGTN’s anchors and journalists are
well trained and had relevant experience in other world famous
global news organization. For instance, Elaine Reyes13, the host of
"Americas Now", previously worked for NBC station. Additionally,
another America news anchor Mike Walter, whose reporting on
September 11th won him global reputation, served for CBS and
USA Today before joining CGTN in 2011. It is the same story for
CGTN Africa. Beatrice Marshall, the host of "Talk Africa", was the
chief anchor at Kenya’s leading television network (KTN), which
enables her to express an in-depth insight and views of Africa.
Furthermore, all the news products made by branches are in realtime
broadcasting rather than going through censoring process
by Beijing headquarters. Recently, CGTN’s TV channels have
become accessible in 170 countries and regions with a total of
387 million viewers . Unfortunately, not all the subscribers can
get free access to cable TV. For example, U.S. users need to pay
an extra charge in subscription of Netflix in order to watch CGTN's
programs. This inconvenience is not a single barrier for CGTN.
Both "television" channels and "networks" matter to CGTN,
especially in emerging social media platforms. To some extent,
the “mobile priority” principle pushs CGTN's to fulfill global user's
satisfactions by offering content via various platforms rather than
merely by television broadcasting. Hence, audiences could get
access to CGTN programs simultaneously on television, online and
on mobile devices. In addition, CGTN has specialized personnel
to produce content and design layout customized on mobile
applications. CGTN places emphasis on social media as well.
Information is spreading by mobile applications as well as social
media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Weibo and
WeChat. As a newly-establish brand, CGTN has inherent “media
genes" adapting to the emerging media environment.
There are around 87 million global subscribers accumulating
various digital media. In the end of 2017, CGTN’s English Facebook
account had 52.69 million followers, which hits the first among
other global media organization, and its YouTube account had
garnered over 300 million hits.
In addition, according to CGTN's chief executive Jiang, more than
3.1 million users download CGTN's mobile news app to date, 95
percent have originated outside China (Table 2).14
Table 2: Main Global Media Outlets' Subscribers in Social Media.
As for motivations of establishment, CGTN desires to be one of
the world-famous news media in global communication rather
than merely within the governmental sphere and to influence
both television channels and social networks to attract users.
Willing to improve the image of China in the world, CGTN aims
to tell the story of China in its own way in the "going global"
context. Although accomplishments have been achieved,
complicated barriers still exist in the long run. In addition, CGTN
adopts several strategies and new approaches in the process of
internationalizing: globalization, localization, and socialization.
Conclusions and Discussions
CGTN is a relatively new global apparatus under the "going
global" context in China. The name "CGTN" vividly depicts its
missions: tell the story of "China" in its way, attempt to be one of
the world-famous news media in "global" communication rather
than merely within governmental sphere; emphasis on both
"television" channels and social "networks" to attract users.
Admittedly, there are some challenges and barriers for CGTN.
First and foremost, although press freedom is better for CGTN,
censor mechanism still exits due to the state-ownership. In
addition, there is still a big gap between CGTN and other worldclass
international broadcasting groups especially for levels of
journalistic profession. Even though CGTN hires experienced
international staff, it will still take a long time to cultivate its loyal
audience and develop the uniqueness and brand reputation. At
the same time, the difference on values and cultures hampers
intercultural communication. Finally, the top-down decision of
establishment of China Media Group is still in process, thus there
are numerous things to see in the future.
This is a product of the Joint research program with Department
of Communication, New York State University at Buffalo and
sponsored by China Scholarship Committee. Please ask for
permission of the author to cite since it is still a draft version.
1"CGTN's official website is CGTN.com.CGTN Television - The main English-language news channel CGTN has taken over from CCTVNEWS, while our other language channels are now CGTN Spanish, French, Arabic and Russian. CGTN Documentary replaced CCTV Documentary English and is China’s first state-level English-language documentary channel to broadcast globally. We also deliver our content across a range of digital platforms. Not only are all television programs broadcast simultaneously online and on mobile, but the website and news app provide original stories from China and around the world, with the support of CGTN’s global team. Audiences can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Weibo and WeChat."CGTN-About Us". CGTN homepage. https://www.cgtn.com/home/info/about_us.do 2018-05-17.
2"CGTN-About Us". CGTN homepage. https://www.cgtn.com/home/info/about_us.do 2017-03-08.
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4“Digital media” equally refers to complex material objects, communication facts and various communication productions, social situations or economic strategies. By reminding a simple list of technological artifacts which are ranged in this category (computers, tablets, smartphones, Internet, social networks, microblog, etc.), we point out the diversity and the complexity of digital media.
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8RT is a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government. It operates cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in various languages, including English, Spanish and Russian.
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10MediaCorp operates entertainment-based Channel 5 and Channel 8, Malay channel Suria, Mandarin-language Channel U, and Channel NewsAsia
11Authoritarian liberalism a combination of economic liberalism and political illiberalism
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