China Central Television

China Central Television
China Central Television (CCTV)
Type Television network,
Satellite television and
Cable television
Industry Television Broadcasting
Founded 2 September 1958
Headquarters Beijing, People's Republic of China
Key people Jiao Li (President)
Zhang Changming (Vice-President)
Products Television content, television programming
Operating income RMB 1.12 Billion
Employees 10,000
Parent State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television
China Central Television
Traditional Chinese 中國中央電視臺
Simplified Chinese 中国中央电视台
Traditional Chinese 央視
Simplified Chinese 央视

China Central Television or Chinese Central Television, commonly abbreviated as CCTV, is the major state television broadcaster in mainland China. CCTV has a network of 19 channels broadcasting different programmes and is accessible to more than one billion viewers.[1] Most of its programmes are a mixture of documentary, comedy, entertainment, and drama, the majority of which consists of Chinese soap operas and entertainment.[2]



CCTV Peking (Beijing) Television (北京电视台) broadcast its first program on 2 September 1958. Due to increasing demands, it soon launched its second channel in the 1960s. Starting from 1 May 1973, Peking Television began broadcasting experimentally in colour on its second channel every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday using the PAL-D system, and fully converted to colour broadcasting by 1977. The network changed its name to CCTV on 1 May 1978.[3]

Until the late 1970s, CCTV held only evening broadcasts, usually closing down at midnight. During the summer and winter academic vacations, it occasionally transmitted daytime programming for students. In 1980 CCTV experimented with news relays from local and central television studios via microwave.[4] By 1985, CCTV had already become a leading television network in China. In 1987 CCTV's popularity soared due to the adaptation and presentation of Dream of the Red Chamber. The 36-episode TV series—the first Chinese television drama to enter the global market—[5] still remains popular in the international market. In the same year, CCTV exported 10,216 programmes to 77 foreign television stations.[5]

Initially, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee issued directive censorship of programs. During reform in the 1990s, the Party adopted new standards for CCTV, "affordability" and "acceptability", loosening the previous government control.[6] Affordability refers to purchasing ability of programs, while acceptability requires that a programme has acceptable content, preventing broadcasts of material that contains inappropriate content or holds against the Communist Party of China.[7]

On 2 September 2008 the new CCTV Headquarters was opened on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of CCTV.

In July 2009 CCTV expanded its coverage and target audience by launching CCTV-العربية, its international channel in Arabic language.[8]

Today, CCTV has 16 national channels, most of them airing 24 hours a day.


Key staff are transferring to CCTV's new headquarters

China Central Television falls under the supervision of the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television which is in turn subordinate to the State Council of the People's Republic of China. A Vice Minister of the state council serves as chairman of CCTV. The organisation has relationships with regional television stations run by local governments, which must reserve up to two channels for the national broadcaster.[9]

The organization is considered one of the "big three" media outlets in China, along with the People's Daily and Xinhua.[10]


The network's principal directors and other officers are appointed by the State, and so are the top officials at local conventional television stations in mainland China; nearly all of them are restricted to broadcasting within their own province or municipality. Editorial independence is subject to government policy considerations, and as a result, it has been charged with being "propaganda aimed at brainwashing the audience" in its history and news programmes in a letter written by a number of Chinese intellectuals who also called for a boycott of state media was posted on a US-based website and has circulated through Chinese websites.[11][12]

Journalists working for CCTV-9, the network's English-language international channel (now known as CCTV News), are under constant pressure to present a positive account of China, according to Anne-Marie Brady's study published in 2008. "In August 2005, a series of items reported factually on coal mining disaster in China; soon after the channel's leaders received a warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that its reports were harming China's international image. Following this incident, senior editorial staff and journalists were all forced to write self-criticisms."[2]

Brady says that while the channel's equipment is state-of-the-art, the employees are not well trained in how to use it, so there are frequent errors during broadcast. "The political controls on the station contribute to a general low level of morale and initiative among station staff," she writes.[2]


  • On 27 December 2007, Xinwen Lianbo aired a report about the wide and easy availability of explicit content on the internet. The report appealed to juristic institutions and government to hurry to make relevant legislation in order to purify the internet environment. In the report, a young student described a pop-up advertisement she saw as being "very erotic very violent".[13] After the airing of the report, many parodies were posted by internet users ridiculing the comment and CCTV's credibility in part.[14] The incident also questioned the reliability of Xinwen Lianbo, noting the unlikelihood of a web page being both violent and erotic at the same time (even though such pages do exist), and the age of the student interviewed. Personal information of the interviewed girl was later also leaked, identifying the girl in the report by name.[15] Online message boards were populated by large threads about the incident,[16] and a satirical work even stated that CCTV's website was the number one "very erotic very violent" website on the internet,[17] with some users even creating their own toplists of sites which meet these criteria,[18] the "top 8 very erotic very violent sports events"[19] and even identifying things that are yellow as being erotic (since 黄, huáng, the Mandarin character for "yellow", also means "erotic").[20]
  • On January 23, 2011 the CCTV news program Xinwen Lianbo showcased the Chengdu J-10 in the air by firing a missile at an airplane, the target plane then exploded. This footage lasted half a second and the destroyed airplane shown was later identified as that of an F-5E, US fighter jet. It turns out the clip was taken from the 1986 US movie Top Gun.[21][22]


CCTV produces its own news broadcasts three times a day and is the country's most powerful and prolific television program producer. Its thirty-minute evening news, Xinwen Lianbo ("News Simulcast"), goes on air daily at 7:00 pm Beijing time. All local stations are required to carry CCTV's news broadcast. An internal CCTV survey indicates that nearly 500 million people countrywide regularly watch this program.[23] However, the figure has slumped in recent years; the program now has 10% of the ratings market, compared to 40% before 1998.[24]

Former logo of China Central Television[25][26][27]

Although news reform has been a prominent feature of CCTV networks, the Evening News has remained relatively the same since its first appearance in the early 1980s. Many important political news stories are broadcast through the program.

Focus, first introduced in 1994, is a popular programme on CCTV. This discussion programme regularly exposes the wrongdoings of local officials, which attracts serious attention from higher levels of government. The programme also exposes the Chinese Government's response to the corrupt charges.[28]

The CCTV New Year's Gala (Chinese: 中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会)—a yearly special program for the Chinese New Year—is the most-watched CCTV programme.[29] Research in 2007 showed that the Gala was watched by over 800 million people worldwide.

In 2003 CCTV launched its first 24-hour news channel, initially available to cable viewers.[30]

Audience share

In 2007 China's television audience rose to 1.2 billion.[31] The 2008 Summer Olympics coverage on CCTV resulted in an aggregate 41% audience share across its network.[32] As content becomes more diversified, there have been concerns about the audience share, as CCTV is losing out to cable, satellite and regional networks.[33] In Guangzhou for example, CCTV programming only accounts for 45% of the weekly audience share, compared to 78% of Hong Kong's TVB Jade and ATV and 80% for Guangzhou TV.[34] Similarly, Shanghai's local stations reported a 71% audience share over CCTV.[35] However, the CCTV New Year's Gala remains extremely popular; it acquires more than 90% audience share over the nation.[30]


Producing a variety of different programming, China Central Television has a number of different program hosts, news anchors, correspondents, and contributors who appear throughout daily programing on the network.

CCTV-3 (Art and Entertainment) anchors

  • Li Yong (game shows and CCTV New Year's Gala)
  • Zhu Jun
  • Zhou Tao

CCTV-13 (Chinese News Channel) anchors

  • Bai Yansong

CCTV-NEWS (English International Channel) program hosts

CCTV-Français (French Channel) anchors

CCTV-Русский (Russian Channel) anchors

  • Anchors list
  • Алеся Корзун
  • Наталия Каргапольцева

CCTV-العربية (Arabic Channel) anchors


The CCTV channels are listed in sequential order with no discerning descriptions, e.g. CCTV-1, CCTV-2, etc., similar to those channels in Europe and in other places around the world.

All CCTV channels are independently broadcast. The following is list of the channels with their names:

  1. CCTV-1 General
  2. CCTV-2 Finance (formerly Economy & Life until 24 August 2009)
  3. CCTV-3 Arts and Entertainment (literally Variety show)
  4. CCTV-4 International (in Chinese)
  5. CCTV-5 Sports
  6. CCTV-6 Movie
  7. CCTV-7 Military and Agriculture
  8. CCTV-8 TV series
  9. CCTV-9 Documentary (Chinese of Local)
  10. CCTV-9 Documentary (English of International)
  11. CCTV-10 Science and Education
  12. CCTV-11 Chinese Opera
  13. CCTV-12 Society and Law
  14. CCTV-13 News
  15. CCTV-14 Children
  16. CCTV-15 Music (Pop music programs broadcast in the CCTV-3)
  17. CCTV-NEWS International (in English; formerly CCTV-9)
  18. CCTV-Français International (in French)
  19. CCTV-Español International (in Spanish)
  20. CCTV-العربية International (in Arabic)
  21. CCTV-Русский International (in Russian)
  22. CCTV-HD High-definition

All CCTV channels are also broadcast via the following:

Overseas broadcasting

The overseas channels are widely available across many cable and satellite providers. CCTV administration plans to create a Portuguese channel by 2010 and a CCTV English News station by 2011.

The CCTV-4 channel split into three separate channels on 1 April 2007—each serves different time zones: China Standard Time, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and Eastern Standard Time (EST)—in order to improve service for audiences around the world.[9]

On 25 July 2009, CCTV launched its Arabic-language international channel, stating that it aims to maintain stronger links with Arabic nations.[37] The Arabic Channel serves the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.[38][39]

On 10 September 2009 CCTV began broadcasting its Russian-language channel.


2009 fire

On 9 February 2009 Television Cultural Center caught fire on the last day of the festivities of Chinese New Year, killing one firefighter.[40] The blaze rendered the 42-story structure unusable, as the zinc and titanium alloy of the outer skin was burnt.[41] The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was destroyed before its expected 2009 opening.[40]

The fire had implications for the credibility of CCTV, which was already unpopular because of its dominance in the media.[42] The incident was mocked by netizens who reproduced Photoshopped photos of the fire and criticised CCTV for censoring coverage. Pictures of the fire are widely distributed on the internet, as a result of citizen journalism.[43]

See also


  1. ^ Olympics Are Ratings Bonanza for Chinese TV, NYT
  2. ^ a b c Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  3. ^ "About us",, 08-05-2003
  4. ^ Miller, T. (2003). Television: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415255028.
  5. ^ a b Kops, M. & Ollig, S. Internationalization of the Chinese TV Sector. LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2007. pp. 33. ISBN 978-3825807535.
  6. ^ Kops & Ollig, pp. 34.
  7. ^ Kops & Ollig, pp. 35.
  8. ^ "About Chinese pragmatism"
  9. ^ a b CCTV: One Network, 1.2 Billion Viewers, Adweek, 5 February 2007.
  10. ^ Li, J. & Lee, C. (2000). Power, Money, and Media: Communication Patterns and Bureaucratic Control in Cultural China. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0810117877.
  11. ^ China TV faces propaganda charge, BBC News, 12 January 2009.
  12. ^ 'Boycott state media' call, The Straits Times, 14 January 2009.
  13. ^ "Officers of State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television". 
  14. ^ "女生上"新闻联播"称网页很黄很暴力遭恶搞" (in Chinese). People's Daily Online. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  15. ^ Kuso events caused by “very erotic very violent", on 7 January 2008, Yangtze Evening News
  16. ^ "Interviewed girl got kusoed who said internet is very erotic very violent". New Express. Archived from the original on 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  17. ^ "10 very erotic very violent websites". Nings. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  18. ^ "guess who's the real body of very erotic very violent according to the primary student". Tencent. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  19. ^ "TOP 8 VERY EROTIC VERY VIOLENT SPORTS EVENTS". Tencent. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  20. ^ "A primary school girl: webpages are very erotic very violent". Yangcheng Evening News Online. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  21. ^ "CCTV Tries to Pass Off 'Top Gun' Clip as Real?". Online Wall Street Journal. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  22. ^ "" 央視新聞疑用美國電影畫面. Retrieved on 2010-02-02.
  23. ^ The Chinese Media: More Autonomous and Diverse—Within Limits, CIA.
  24. ^ CCTV to revamp flagship news program, China Daily, 10 June 2009
  25. ^ Logos of major television stations in China
  26. ^ 央视台标之争:文化自尊还是法律问题
  27. ^ 北京电视台(中央电视台前身)正式开播
  28. ^ Shirk, S. L. (2007). China: Fragile Superpower. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 978-0195306095.
  29. ^ 'Green Dragon' fires up Chinese hopes, Irish Times, 14 February 2009.
  30. ^ a b Latham, K. Pop Culture China!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle. ABC-CLIO, 2007. pp.60 ISBN 978-1851095827.
  31. ^ China's TV audience passes 1.2 billion, Advertising Age, 9 January 2008.
  32. ^ China Mass Media Announces Third Quarter 2008 Unaudited Financial Results. Forbes, 24 November 2008.
  33. ^ Li, J. & Lee, C. Chinese Media, Global Contexts: Global Contexts. Routledge, 2003. pp. 168. ISBN 978-0415303347.
  34. ^ Yuan, Elaine J. (2008). Diversity of exposure in television viewing: audience fragmentation and polarization in Guangzhou Chinese Journal of Communication 1:1, 91 – 108.
  35. ^ Wang, J. Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture. Harvard University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0674026803.
  36. ^ CCTV Global Television Service Satellite Specification CCTV-News, 02-21-2010,
  37. ^ CCTV launches Arabic international channel –
  38. ^ CCTV launches Arabic channel – asiaone News, 25 July 2009.
  39. ^ Bristow, Michael (25 July 2009). China launches Arabic TV channel. BBC News.
  40. ^ a b Jacobs, Andrew (9 February 2009). "Fire Ravages Renowned Building in Beijing". New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  41. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (9 February 2009). "Fire Ravages Renowned Building in Beijing". New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  42. ^ Beijing fire evokes mixed reactions, Financial Times, 13 February 2009.
  43. ^ Credibility of CCTV tarnished by big fire, The Malaysian Insider, 16 February 2009.

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