The Dynamics of Chinese Media Practices and Regulation: Explanations and Interpretations


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Virginia Tech


Based on the understanding that a country's media system can provide important insights into its politics, this dissertation reexamines the development of Chinese politics in the reform era through the media lens, and television in particular. Given that Chinese media have been a marker of the nation's socio-political developments, the media perspective is believed to be particularly useful in interpreting China's changing political circumstances. By tracing the dynamics of television news reporting practices and government regulation of the news media, this analysis will map out the evolving roles of television in today's China to use them as subtle indications of how Chinese politics are evolving in the reform era. Chinese television adopted a Soviet TASS style from its very beginnings due to the heavy Soviet influence that placed an emphasis on imparting a heavily ideological messages and propagating government policies and rules. This practice, however, has been substantially changed during the reform era. Television news reporting in today's China is moving towards the liberal media style in both format and content. What specific changes have taken places in television industry? To what extent has Chinese media departed from the Soviet style? What are the implications of these media changes for China's politics? To answer these questions, I conducted content analysis of the China Radio and Television Broadcasting Awards news reports and television regulations in the reform era, which revealed that Chinese media was developing towards a hybrid of Soviet and liberal models in which both control and liberalization trends can be identified. While encouraging and authorizing increased managerial, editorial, and programming freedom and autonomy, the Party-State has managed to retain its control over political content through increasingly indirect and sophisticated means. The continued marginalization of alternative political voices confirms that democracy with political pluralism, free flow of information and rule of law has not yet materialized after more than two decades' economic reform. By collaborating with market and technology, the Communist Party of China has actually managed to consolidate its control over both the political and economic power while authorizing increased freedom in individual, cultural, and social domains.



China, Politics, Development, Television, News, Regulation