Chinese TV expands into social media, with new app – for reporters

WASHINGTON – Chinese state television has embraced social media as a tool to expand its influence, according to its top consultant in the U.S.

Speaking at a CCLP forum here, Jim Laurie described CCTV’s expansion into social networks. Laurie said 300 CCTV reporters worldwide will soon carry a unique app that, as soon as they file a report, simultaneously transmits versions to China’s Weibo, which has 369 million images.jpgusers, and to its English-language Facebook and Twitter sites here in the U.S.

“It doesn’t take much to get a correspondent to go on line,” he said. “Nowadays you don’t dare not do it.”

CCTV also has a presence on YouTube. DSCN5587.jpg

Beijing often blocks social networks from outside of China, but Laurie [pictured at right with Adam Clayton Powell III, photo credit: Peggy Miles] said the government there understands it must use digital and social media throughout the world in its bid to match the influence of the BBC and CNN.

And in turn, social media can now drive the news agenda in China. In the past few weeks, according to Laurie, Weibo users pushed coverage in state media of China’s bird flu outbreak and of dead fish in Shanghai’s river.

Laurie, a longtime veteran of NBC and then ABC News, is helping guide the expansion of CCTV America, Chinese television’s new Washington-based news production center. Starting in September, CCTV America will control five hours a day of the worldwide CCTV news network, according to Laurie, with the rest of the schedule coming CCTV anchor studios in Beijing and Nairobi, where CCTV last year opened a 100-person production center. The result is “three networks in one,” as Laurie put it.

Laurie earlier helped News Corp. to start news networks in India and then supervised the southeast Asia anchor and production hub for Al Jazeera English, which originates several hours each day from each of four worldwide anchor points – four networks in one?