China launches Arabic-language TV channel

China has launched an international Arabic-language television channel as part of its initiative to boost the country’s profile abroad, reports the Hong Kong-based magazine Media.

CCTV State-run China Central Television (CCTV) said the new service would broadcast news, entertainment and education programmes 24 hours a day to a potential audience of about 300 million people in 22 countries.

CCTV vice-president Zhang Changming said in a statement the channel “would serve as an important bridge to strengthen communication and understanding between China and the Arab countries.”

A Chinese media industry source said the goal was to boost China’s soft power, increasing the influence of its opinions overseas. “It is all about nationalism and propaganda. CCTV wants to demonstrate how China is growing fast. Promoting Chinese culture is just secondary.”

The source said that there he did not expect major advertising opportunities on foreign CCTV channels as the primary focus is propaganda. The Arabic satellite channel can be received across the Middle East, North Africa and in the Asia-Pacific region.

The move is part of an ambitious programme of international expansion by the state-controlled media to promote the image of China abroad. Xinhua news agency, which already reports from more than 100 countries and territories, also plans to open more foreign bureaux.

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