Monday, April 6, 2009


After reading my post about Chinese TV, Richard wrote back with some more info:

The cable system in our room where we were staying in the Peking University (locally referred to as "BeiDa") ShaoYuan ("SpoonGarden" - go figure...) Guest House, had ~90 channels.

About 1/3 of the channels were "CCTV" Channels (CCTV is "Central China Television" - "China's BBC") and were "national". Others appeared to be local to Beijing. Most of the channels looked remarkably like what you'd see on any cable system in the US, though the programming was all produced in China. Several news, business, public affairs, documentary, history, nature & sport channels. Also several shopping channels (as you already know...)

Lots of channels w/drama, comedy & music programming. The drama stuff included all the usual suspects - crime, medical, family situation, etc. Didn't see any sci-fi, though. The comedy stuff all had awful laff tracks - strange, given that all the other production values of the Chinese programming seemed quite high. In fact, from a production standpoint, it all was virtually indidtingushable from US TV - for example all the news broadcasts, including all the local news broadcasts, looked and sounded EXACTLY like news broadcasts in the states, right down to the teasers before the commercial breaks, the on-screen graphics, the music/electronic sound bites & beds, etc.- except, of course, for the fact that that everything is in Chinese.

Things that they have which we don't are several channels of serious "traditional" Chinese programming... Peking Opera, traditional/historical Chinese drama (we'd probably call 'em "costumers"), etc. Also there were lots of "musical variety" programs, consisting of mixes of current "Chinese pop", big musical "production number" programs (think Busby Berkley/Olympic opening Ceremony type production numbers - many filmed live in stadium/arena concert settings) and traditional Chinese music & dance mixed with classical orchestra.

Two channels seemed to have mostly "classic US TV" dramas & comedies, one channel mostly dubbed in Chinese, the other channel mostly in the original English w/Chinese subtitles.

And of course, there was "CCTV9" - CCTV's 24 hour English lanuage news, weather, public affairs, business and documentary channel. It's available as part of the standard digital cable package on Comcast cable here in Seattle and I suspect on most other major US cable systems as well.

Toby O'B
[Image is of the CCTV building in Beijing.]

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