July 1, 2009

China’s Xinhua plans TV news service

China's state-run Xinhua news agency says it has started an English-language international television news service to be distributed worldwide.

The move is seen as part of a sophisticated effort by Chinese officials to boost the country's image and influence in world, much as the BBC and the Voice of America do for Britain and the United States, the show business publication Variety reported Wednesday.

The newspaper said Beijing is spending $6.6 billion to upgrade Xinhua, China Central Television and the People's Daily newspaper, and the new television service will seek to provide an alternative to Western media outlets, especially on touchy subjects for China such as Tibetan independence.

Variety noted CNN's coverage of demonstrations in Lhasa last year was heavily criticized by China, which reportedly blocked Western news reports of the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Xinhua president Li Congjun said at a launching ceremony the TV news service would interpret global events objectively and impartially from a Chinese angle and bring novel perspectives to foreign audiences, ultimately becoming an important TV news supplier for the world's users.

The service is reportedly set to begin Dec. 31.