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Mar 4, 2017

The Chinese Communist Party-controlled international television news broadcaster CGTN (China Global Television News) faces a seemingly-irreconcilable dilemma. While the network positions itself as an alternative to the dominant global channels like CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, CGTN also has a separate, arguably more important mission as the voice of the party that must always adhere to "core socialist values" according to mandates set by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The problem is that news content and those "core socialist values" usually do not mix very well, resulting in programming that often more closely resembles pure propaganda. While this tension does cause problems in other state-funded newsrooms around the world, many of the journalists and production staff based in CGTN's Africa headquarters in Nairobi have learned how to navigate this delicate balance, according to new research by New York University Phd student Melissa Lefkowitz.

Melissa was granted rare access inside CGTN Africa where she spent two months interviewing staff and observing the channel's operations. She discovered that despite the obvious political challenges, particularly when it comes to reporting on China, and sometimes difficult cross cultural challenges between the Chinese management and African editorial staff, employee morale at CGTN is surprisingly positive.

Melissa joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the politics of Chinese TV news in Africa and her experiences with the people produce the news at CGTN in Nairobi.

Join the discussion. Do you watch CGTN? How do you think their programming compares to other international news networks like FRANCE 24 or VOA? Tell us what you think.


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