Electronic Working Paper 16

The Globalization of Chinese Television: The Role of the Party State Results

Hong Zhang
College of Media and International Culture of Zhejiang University, China


China's television sector has undergone rapid transformations since the country's reform and opening-up period in the late 1970s. As in many other countries, these transformations have meant to availability of globally diffused cultural forms through television. In this paper, the main results of a recently completed PhD project, aiming to understand the role of the Chinese party state in this transformation, are presented. The project challenges both the media imperialism theory that regards global communications as mostly driven by activities between states and the revisionist approach that assumes the end of nation-states under globalization. It supports global transformation theories and develops a three-tier analytical framework in order to assess (1) the transformation of television governance by the party- state; (2) the impact of party-state policies on Chinese television; and (3) the interplay of party-state policies with other power factors. The findings suggest that the globalization of Chinese television has undergone three stages of internationalization, transnationalization and renationalization, in accordance with the changing role of the Chinese party state. They complement global transformation theories with evidence from a transitional Communist country that the (party) state not only remains a key actor in the process of globalization, but has also itself undergone profound changes in response to it.

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