Society

What’s CCTV for

Debate rages on role of media

Mouthpiece remark: Hu Zhanfan

Thousands of internet users poured scorn on the new head of the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) network this weekend, after he appeared to suggest that journalists had an obligation to act as a “mouthpiece” for the ruling Communist Party.

Hu Zhanfan – who was appointed head of CCTV in November – actually made the comments in January when he was editor of the Guangming Daily newspaper. But they began attracting attention this Sunday after a netizen posted a link to the statement on the popular micro-blogging website, Sina Weibo.

Within hours there were thousands of comments criticising Hu’s remarks and bemoaning the lack of an independent media in China.

“The new head of CCTV still uses propaganda theory and polices from Yan’an,” one weibo user wrote, referring to series of speeches by Mao Zedong in 1942 about the need for writers and artists to highlight the “bright side of life” under Communist rule.

Others compared Hu to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, juxtaposing images of CCTV’s evening news broadcast with photos of mass rallies in Germany in the 1930s.

Hu – who is also vice-minister of China’s broadcast regulator, SARFT – is said to have been moved to CCTV after several of its shows, including the flag-ship current affairs program 1+1, were deemed too critical of government.

Next October, the Party will begin its once-in-a-decade leadership transition and insiders say this means a reassessment of its media management approach, to ensure that political change at the top is covered smoothly.


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