Beijing on Thursday named a new head of the government-run China Central Television (CCTV) network, state media reported, a month after the Asian giant said it wanted to increase its soft power abroad. Hu Zhanfan, chief editor of the state-run national newspaper the Guangming Daily, will lead an expansion by the flagship broadcaster, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Hu, whose appointment is the latest in a string of recent leadership changes in organisations controlled by China’s ruling Communist party, takes the helm weeks after reports the broadcaster of 37 channels was planning a major global expansion. Beijing has earmarked 45 billion yuan ($7.1 billion) to fund the expansion of state-owned media groups including CCTV, Xinhua and China Radio International, according to previous reports.
CCTV reportedly plans to open studios in North America and Africa, each with more than 200 staff. Last month China’s Communist leaders called on the culture industry - a broad term taken to include the media - to raise its game and promote the Asian nation abroad as Beijing continues its “soft power” drive. CCTV said recently it already reaches 210 million households in 156 countries outside China, after launching channels in Russian, Arabic, Spanish and French in addition to its overseas Chinese-language and English services.
Hu replaces Jiao Li, a former vice minister for propaganda who served CCTV for just over two years. Jiao took over at CCTV in May 2009, in the wake of a deadly fire caused by an illegal fireworks display that engulfed the nearly-completed Mandarin Oriental Hotel and media centre next to CCTV’s iconic new Beijing headquarters.
The inferno on February 9, 2009, killed one firefighter and completely gutted the 5 billion yuan ($730 million) cantilevered structure designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, according to earlier China Daily reports. The hotel and headquarters are still non-operational as repairs continue after the fire.
Jiao will be nominated to another post, Xinhua said.