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Blue Ocean TV plans venture into strange waters

  • Source: Global Times
  • [21:43 August 01 2010]
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Justin Ku

Editor's Note:

Blue Ocean Network (BON), the first commercial Chinese private TV network, was launched last year and is now available in the US, Canada, Mexico and more than 50 Asian counties and regions. What's unique about it? What problems does it face in attracting a Western audience? Global Times (GT) reporter Xu Ming talked to BON President Justin Ku (Ku) on his plans for the channel.

GT: How does BON differ from State-owned media sources?

Ku: BON is an independent and commercial network, so we are audience-driven and service-oriented. This direction decides that we offer the audience what they need.

We provide a service of information, as our three functions show: objectively inform the audience about what is happening in China, educate the audience about Chinese language and history, and entertain them. State-owned media also have these functions, which they just realize in different ways.

BON doesn't have a pre-set agenda, nor does it represent any interest group. That means we don't interpret the facts according to our values. Instead, we report the facts as they are. While most State-owned media usually try to shape China's image, we try to reflect the real China.

But State-owned media have their own agenda, because in China, State-owned media today still to some extent functions as an organ of the government. It is decided by its function and has its value.

I think the two kinds of media will gradually become complementary to each other. That's because foreign audiences need different information.

GT: You mentioned that State-owned media try to shape China's image, while BON aims to reflect Chinese realities. Could this cause problems with censorship?

Ku: In my opinion, the appearance of as big a private media outlet like BON in China itself shows that now China is confident enough to let the world see its true colors. Under such circumstances, reporting on China objectively, even with some negative information, is not seen as treason or imprudence any more. It's a big improvement.

Thirty five years ago, when the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni made a movie about China, even though he was well intentioned, the government was unhappy with the results and accused him of shaming China.

Now both the government and its people have the confidence to show the real China.

Probably the confidence comes from the dramatic changes in the economy and politics over the past three decades. Even if there is still negative news, China is on the rise overall. So they don't worry about the appearance of negative reports any longer, as long as these reports are not deliberately ill-willed or persistent nitpick.

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